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II 



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NAN REDFERNE AND MOTHER CHATTOX. 



P. 1 10. 




THE 



LANCASHIRE WITCHES 



A ROMANCE OF PENDLE FOREST 



BY WILLIAM HARRISON AINSWORTH 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY 

SIR JOHN GILBERT, R.A. 



Sir [effcry. Is there a justice in Lancashire has so much skill in witches as 
I have ? Nay, I'll speak a proud word : you shall turn me loose against any 
Witch-finder in Europe. I'd make an ass of Hopkins if he were alive. 
SHAD WELL. 





LONDON 
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS, LIMITED 

BROADWAY HOUSE, LUDGATE HILL, E.C. 



RADBURY, AGNEW, & CO. LD., PRINTERS, 
LONDON AND TONBRIDGK. 



TO 

JAMES CEOSSLEY, ESQ., 

(OF MANCHESTER,) 

PRESIDENT OF THE CHETHAM SOCIETY, 

AND THE LEARNED EDITOR OF 

f&jp iinorori* nf tfliirtes in titf Cncntu nf taastrc." 

THE GROUNDWORK OF THE FOLLOWING PAGES, 

THIS EOMANCE, 

UNDERTAKEN AT HIS SUGGESTION, 
IS INSCRIBED 



BY HIS OLD AND SINCERELY ATTACHED FEIEND, 



THE AUTHOR 



CONTENTS. 

INTRODUCTION. 

rf 



CHAPTER L * AGE. 

THE BRACON ON PEIO>LE HILL .................................................... .... ......... 1 

CHAPTER IL 
THE ERUPTION .................................................................................... 13 

CHAPTER IIL 
WHALLEY ABBBT ................................................................................. 18 

CHAPTER IV. 
THE MALEDICTION ............................................................................... 27 

CHAPTER V. 
THE MIDNIGHT MASS ........................................................ . .................... 32 

CHAPTER VL 
TETEB ET FOBTIS CAKCEK ....................................................................... 37 

CHAPTER VIL 
THB ABBEY MILL ................................................................................. 43 

CHAPTER VHL 
THE EXECUTIOMKK ................................................................................ 62 

CHAPTER IX. 
WISWALL HALL .............................................. . ..................................... 66 

CHAPTER X. 
THE HOLEHOUBBS.. .............................................................................. 69 



BOOK THE FIRST. 



CHAPTER L 
THB MAT QUEEN 



CHAPTER IL 
THE BLACK CAT AKD THB WHITE DOVE 72 



VI CONTENTS. 

CHAPTEK III. PAGE 
THE ASSHETONS 77 

CHAPTEK IV. 
ALICE NUTTER 91 

CHAPTER V. 
MOTHER CHATTOX 102 

s 

CHAPTER VI. 
THE ORDEAL BY SWIMMING 119 

CHAPTER VII. 
THE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH 129 

CHAPTER VIII. 
THE REVELATION 150 

CHAPTER IX. 
THE Two PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETING-HALL 158 

CHAPTER X. 
THE NOCTURNAL MEETING ...189 



BOOK THE SECOND. 



CHAPTER I. 
FLINT 208 

CHAPTER II. 
READ HALL ; 218 

CHAPTER III. 
THE BOGGART'S GLEN 224 

CHAPTER IV. 
THE REEVE OF THE FORKST .....230 

CHAPTER V. 
BESS'S o' TH' BOOTH 23 

CHAPTER VI. 
THE TEMPTATION 248 

CHAPTER VII. 
THE PERAMBULATION OF THE BOUNDARIES 258 

CHAPTER VIII. 
ROUGH LEE ...274 



CONTENTS. Vll 

CHAPTEE IX. PAGE 
How ROUGH LEE WAS DEFENDED BY NICHOLAS 284 

CHAPTER X. 
ROGER NOWBLL AND HIS DOUBLE 293 

CHAPTER XI. 
MOTHER DEMDIKE 299 

CHAPTER XIT. 
THE MYSTERIES OF MALKIN TOWER 308 

CHAPTER XIII. 
THE Two FAMILIARS 316 

CHAPTER XIV. 
How ROUGH LEE WAS AGAIN BESIEGED 331 

CHAPTER XV. 
THE PHANTOM MONK 340 

CHAPTER XVI. 
ONE O'CLOCK 345 

CHAPTER XVII. 
ITow THE BEACON FIRE WAS EXTINGUISHED 355 



BOOK THE THIRD. 



CHAPTER I. 
DOWNHAM MANOR-HOUSE 364 

CHAPTER II. 
THE PENITENT'S RETREAT 385 

CHAPTER III. 
MIDDLETON HALL 389 

CHAPTER IV. 
THE GORGE OF CLIVIGER 399 

CHAPTER V. 
THE END OF MALKIN TOWER 407 

CHAPTER VI. 
HOGHTON TOWER 417 

CHAPTER VII. 
THE ROYAL DECLARATION CONCERNING LAWFUL SPORTS ON THE SUNDAY 433 



vni 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER VIII. PAGB . 

How KINO JAMES HUNTED THE HABT AND THE WILD BOAB IK HOOHTON PABR ...445 

CHAPTER IX. 
THE BANQUET ...................................................................... .. ? ............. 468 

CHAPTER X. 
EVENING ENTERTAINMENTS ................................................................ -,..467 

s 

CHAPTER XL 
FATALITY ........................................................................................... 476 

CHAPTER XIL 
THE LAST HOUR .................................................................................. 480 



CHAPTER 
THE MASQUE or DEATH ........................................................................ 486 

CHAPTER XIV. 
"ONE GIUVTS" ............................................ ........................................ 489 

CHAPTER XV. 
LANCASTER CASTLE .................................................. . ......... ...490 



THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES, 



INTRODUCTION. 



ITaat aWnrt rf !0jialtaj. 



CHAPTER I. THE BEACON ON PENDLE HTLL. 

THERE were eight watchers by the beacon on Pendle Hill in 
Lancashire. Two were stationed on either side of the north 
eastern extremity of the mountain. One looked over the castled 
heights of Clithero ; the woody eminences of Bowland ; the bleak 
ridges of Thornley ; the broad moors of Bleasdale ; the Trough 
of Bolland, and Wolf Crag ; and even brought within his ken 
the black fells overhanging Lancaster. The other tracked the 
stream called Pendle Water, almost from its source amid the 
neighbouring hills, and followed its windings through the leafless 
forest, until it united its waters to those of the Calder, and swept 
on in swifter and clearer current, to wash the base of Whalley 
Abbey. But the watcher's survey did not stop here. Noting 
the sharp spire of Burnley Church, relieved against the rounded 
masses of timber constituting Townley Park ; as well as the en 
trance of the gloomy mountain gor^ known as the Grange of 
Cliviger ; his far-reaching gaze passed over Todmorden, and 
settled upon the distant summits of Blackstone Edge. 

Dreary was the prospect on all sides. Black moor, bleak fell, 
straggling forest, intersected with sullen streams as black as ink, 
with here and there a small tarn, or moss-pool, with waters of the 
same hue these constituted the chief features of the scene. The 
whole district was barren and thinly-populated. Of towns, only 
Clithero, Colne, and Burnley the latter little more than a village 
were in view. In the valleys there were a few hamlets and 
scattered cottages, and on the uplands an occasional " booth," as 
the hut of the herdsman was termed ; but of more important 
mansions there were only six, as Merley, Twistleton, Alcancoats, 
Saxfeld, Ightenhill, and Gawthorpe. The " vaccaries " for the 
cattle, of which the herdsmen had the care, and the " lawnds," or 
parks within the forest, appertaining to some of the halls before 
mentioned, offered the only evidences of cultivation. All else 
\vas heathy waste, morass, and wood. 



2 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Still, in the eye of the sportsman and the Lancashire gentle 
men of the sixteenth century were keen lovers of sport the 
country had a strong interest. Pendle forest abounded with 
game. Grouse, plover, and bittern were found upon its moors ; 
woodcock and snipe on its marshes ; mallard, teal, and widgeon 
upon its pools. In its chases ranged herds of deer, protected by 
the terrible forest-laws, then in full force : and the hardier hunts 
man might follow the wolf to his lair in the mountains ; might 
spear the boar in the oaken glades, or the otter on the river's 
brink ; might unearth the badger or the fox, or smite the fierce 
cat-a-mountain with a quarrel from his bow. A nobler victim 
sometimes, also, awaited him in the shape of a wild mountain bull, 
a denizen of the forest, and a remnant of the herds that had once 
browsed upon the hills, but which had almost all been captured, 
and removed to stock the park of the Abbot of Whalley. The 
streams and pools were full of fish : the stately heron frequented 
the meres ; and on the craggy heights built the kite, the falcon, 
and the kingly eagle. 

There were eight watchers by the beacon. Two stood apart 
from the others, looking to the right and the left of the hill. Both 
were armed with swords and arquebuses, and wore steel caps and 
coats of buff. Their sleeves were embroidered with the five 
wounds of Christ, encircling the name of Jesus the badge of the 
Pilgrimage of Grace. Between them, on the verge of the moun 
tain, was planted a great banner, displaying a silver cross, the 
chalice, and the Host, together with an ecclesiastical figure, but 
wearing a helmet instead of a mitre, and holding a sword in 
place of a crosier, with the unoccupied hand pointing to the two 
towers of a monastic structure, as if to intimate that he was armed 
for its defence. This figure, as the device beneath it showed, 
represented John Paslew, Abbot of Whalley, or, as he styled 
himself in his military capacity, Earl of Poverty. 

There were eight watchers by the beacon. Two have been 
described. Of the other six, two were stout herdsmen carrying 
crooks, and holding a couple of mules, and a richly-caparisoned 
war-horse by the bridle. Near them stood a broad-shouldered, 
athletic young man, with the fresh complexion, curling brown hair, 
light eyes, and open Saxon countenance, best seen in his native 
county of Lancaster. He wore a Lincoln-green tunic, with a 
bugle suspended from the shoulder by a silken cord; and a silver 
plate engraved with the three luces, the ensign of the Abbot of 
Whalley, hung by a chain from his neck. A hunting knife was 
in his girdle, and an eagle's plume in his cap, and he leaned upon 
the but-end of a crossbow, regarding three persons who stood 
together by a peat fire, on the sheltered side of the beacon. Two 
of these were elderly men, in the white gowns and scapularies of 
Cistertian monks, doubtless from Whalley, as the abbey belonged 
to that order. The third and last, and evidently their superior, 



THE BEACON ON PENDLE HILL. 3 

was a tall man in a riding dress, wrapped in a long mantle of 
black velvet, trimmed with minever, and displaying the same 
badges as those upon the sleeves of the sentinels, only wrought 
in richer material. His features were strongly marked and stern, 
and bore traces of age ; but his eye was bright, and his carriage 
erect and dignified. 

The beacon, near which the watchers stood, consisted of a vast 
pile of logs of timber, heaped upon a circular range of stones, 
with openings to admit air, and having the centre filled with 
fagots, and other quickly combustible materials. Torches were 
placed near at hand, so that the pile could be lighted on the 
instant. 

The watch was held one afternoon at the latter end of Novem 
ber, 1536. In that year had arisen a formidable rebellion in the 
northern counties of England, the members of which, while en 
gaging to respect the person of the king, Henry VIIL, and his 
issue, bound themselves by solemn oath to accomplish the resto 
ration of Papal supremacy throughout the realm, and the restitu 
tion of religious establishments and lands to their late ejected 
possessors. They bound themselves, also, to punish the enemies 
of the Romish church, and suppress heresy. From its religious 
character the insurrection assumed the name of the Pilgrimage 
of Grace, and numbered among its adherents all who had not 
embraced the new doctrines in Yorkshire and Lancashire. That 
such an outbreak should occur on the suppression of the monas 
teries, was not marvellous. The desecration and spoliation of so 
many sacred structures the destruction of shrines and images 
long regarded with veneration the ejection of so many ecclesi 
astics, renowned for hospitality and revered for piety and learning 
the violence and rapacity of the commissioners appointed by 
the Vicar-General Cromwell to carry out these severe measures 
all these outrages were regarded by the people with abhorrence, 
and disposed them to aid the sufferers in resistance. As yet the 
wealthier monasteries in the north had been spared, and it was to 
preserve them from the greedy hands of the visiters, Doctors Lee 
and Layton, that the insurrection had been undertaken. A simul 
taneous rising took place in Lincolnshire, headed by Makarel, 
Abbot of Barlings, but it was speedily quelled by the vigour and 
skill of the Duke of Suffolk, and its leader executed. But the 
northern outbreak was better organized, and of greater force, for 
it now numbered thirty thousand men, under the command of a 
skilful and resolute leader named Robert Aske. 

As may be supposed, the priesthood were main movers in a 
revolt having their especial benefit for its aim ; and many of them, 
following the example of the Abbot of Barlings, clothed them 
selves in steel instead of woollen garments, and girded on the 
sword and the breastplate for the redress of their grievances and 
the maintenance of their rights. Amongst these were the Abbots 



4 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

of Jervaux, Furness, Fountains, Rivaulx, and Salley, and, lastly, 
the Abbot of Whalley, before mentioned ; a fiery and energetic 
prelate, who had ever been constant and determined in his oppo 
sition to the aggressive measures of the king. Such was the 
Pilgrimage of Grace, such its design, and such its supporters. 

Several large towns had already fallen into the hands of 
the insurgents. York, Hull, and Pontefract had yielded; 
Skipton Castle was besieged, and defended by the Earl ,of 
Cumberland ; and battle was offered to the Duke of Norfolk 
and the Earl of Shrewsbury, who headed the king's forces at 
Doncaster. But the object of the Royalist leaders was to 
temporise, and an armistice was offered to the rebels and 
accepted. Terms were next proposed and debated. 

During the continuance of this armistice all hostilities ceased ; 
but beacons were reared upon the mountains, and their fires were 
to be taken as a new summons to arms. This signal the eight 
watchers expected. 

Though late in November, the day had been unusually fine, and, 
in consequence, the whole hilly ranges around were clearly 
discernible, but now the shades of evening were fast drawing on. 

" Night is approaching," cried the tall man in the velvet 
mantle, impatiently ; " and still the signal comes not. Where 
fore this delay? Can Norfolk have accepted our conditions? 
Impossible. The last messenger from our camp at Scawsby Lees 
brought word that the duke's sole terms would be the king's 
pardon to the whole insurgent army, provided they at once 
dispersed except ten persons, six named and four unnamed." 

" And were you amongst those named, lord abbot ? " demanded 
one of the monks. 

" John Paslew, Abbot of Whalley, it was said, headed the 
list," replied the other, with a bitter smile. "Next came 
William Trafford, Abbot of Salley. Next Adam Sudbury, Abbot 
of Jervaux. Then our leader, Robert Aske. Then John Eastgate, 
Monk of Whalley " 

" How, lord abbot!" exclaimed the monk. " Was my name 
mentioned 1 " 

" It was," rejoined the abbot. ft And that of William Hay- 
docke, also Monk of Whalley, closed the list." 

"The unrelenting tyrant!" muttered the other monk. "But 
these terms could not be accepted ? " 

"Assuredly not," replied Paslew; "they were rejected with 
scorn. But the negotiations were continued by Sir Ralph 
Ellerker and Sir Robert Bowas, who were to claim on our part a 
free pardon for all ; the establishment of a Parliament and courts 
of justice at York ; the restoration of the Princess Mary to the 
succession ; the Pope to his jurisdiction ; and our brethren to 
their houses. But such conditions will never be granted. With 
my consent no armistice should have been agreed to. We are 



THE BEACON ON PENDLE HILL. 5 

sure to lose by the delay. But I was overruled by the Arch 
bishop of York and the Lord Darcy. Their voices prevailed 
against the Abbot of Whalley or, if it please you, the Earl of 
Poverty." 

t( It is the assumption of that derisive title which has drawn 
upon you the full force of the king's resentment, lord abbot," 
observed Father Eastgate. 

" It may be," replied the abbot. " I took it in mockery of 
Cromwell and the ecclesiastical commissioners, and I rejoice that 
they have felt the sting. The Abbot of Barlings called himself 
Captain Cobbler, because, as he affirmed, the state wanted mending 
like old shoon. And is not my title equally well chosen ? Is not 
the Church smitten with poverty ? Have not ten thousand of our 
brethren been driven from their homes to beg or to starve? 
Have not the houseless poor, whom we fed at our gates, and 
lodged within our wards, gone away hungry and without rest ? 
Have not the sick, whom we would have relieved, died untended 
by the hedge-side ? I am the head of the poor in Lancashire, the 
redresser of their grievances, and therefore I style myself Earl 
of Poverty. Have I not done well ? " 

" You have, lord abbot," replied Father Eastgate. 

" Poverty will not alone be the fate of the Church, but of 
the whole realm, if the rapacious designs of the monarch and his 
heretical counsellors are carried forth," pursued the abbot. 
tl Cromwell, Audeley, and Kich, have wisely ordained that no 
infant shall be baptised without tribute to the king ; that no man 
who owns not above twenty pounds a year shall consume wheaten 
bread, or eat the flesh of fowl or swine without tribute ; and 
that all ploughed land shaU pay tribute likewise. Thus the 
Church is to be beggared, the poor plundered, and all men 
burthened, to fatten the king, and fill his exchequer." 

" This must be a jest," observed Father Haydocke 

u It is a jest no man laughs at," rejoined the abbot, sternly ; 
" any more than the king's counseUors will laugh at the Earl of 
Poverty, whose title they themselves have created. But where 
fore comes not the signal ? Can aught have gone wrong ? I 
will not think it. The whole country, from the Tweed to the 
Humber, and from the Lune to the Mersey, is ours ; and, if we but 
hold together, our cause must prevail." 

" Yet we have many and powerful enemies," observed Father 
Eastgate ; ic and the king, it is said, hath sworn never to make 
terms with us. Tidings were brought to the abbey this morning, 
that the Earl of Derby is assembling forces at Preston, to inarch 
upon us." 

" We will give him a warm reception if he comes," replied 
Paslew, fiercely. " He will find that our walls have not been 
kernelled and embattled by licence of good King Edward the 
Third for nothing ; and that our brethren can fight as well as 



6 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

their predecessors fought in the time of Abbot Holden, when 
they took tithe by force from Sir Christopher Parsons of Slayd- 
burn. The abbey is strong, and right well defended, and we 
need not fear a surprise. But it grows dark fast, and yet no 
signal comes." 

" Perchance the waters of the Don have again risen, so as to 
prevent the army from fording the stream," observed Father 
Haydocke ; " or it may be that some disaster hath befallen our 
leader." 

"Nay, I will not believe the latter," said the abbot; "Robert 
Aske is chosen by Heaven to be our deliverer. It has been 
prophesied that a < worm with one eye' shall work the redemption 
of the fallen faith, and you know that Robert Aske hath been 
deprived of his left orb by an arrow.'' 

"Therefore it is," observed Father Eastgate, "that the 
Pilgrims of Grace chant the following ditty : 

44 ' Forth shall come an Aske with one eye, 
He shall be chief of the company 
Chief of the northern chivalry.' " 

" What more ? " demanded the abbot, seeing that the monk 
appeared to hesitate. 

ts Nay, I know not whether the rest of the rhymes may please 
you, lord abbot," replied Father Eastgate. 

" Let me hear them, and I will judge," said Paslew. Thus 
urged, the monk went on : 

" ' One shall sit at a solemn feast, 
Half warrior, half priest, 
The greatest there shall be the least.'" 

" The last verse," observed the monk, " has been added to the 
ditty by Nicholas Demdike. I heard him sing it the other day 
at the abbey gate." 

"What, 'Nicholas Demdike of Worst on?" cried the abbot; 
" he whose wife is a witch ? " 

u The same," replied Eastgate. 

" Hoo be so ceawnted, sure eno," remarked the forester, who 
had been listening attentively to their discourse, and who now 
stepped forward ; " boh dunna yo think it. Beleemy, lort abbut, 
Bess Demdike's too yunk an too protty for a witch." 

" Thou art bewitched by her thyself, Cuthbert," said the 
abbot, angrily. "I shall impose a penance upon thee, to free 
thee from the evil influence. Thou must recite twenty pater 
nosters daily, fasting, for one month ; and afterwards perform a 
pilgrimage to the shrine of our Lady of Gilsland. Bess Demdike 
is an approved and notorious witch, and hath been seen by 
credible witnesses attending a devil's sabbath on this very hill 
Heaven shield us ! It is therefore that I have placed her and 
her husband under the ban of the Church ; pronounced sentence 



THE BEACON ON PENDLE HILL. 7 

of excommunication against them ; and commanded all my clergy 
to refuse baptism to their infant daughter, newly born." 

"Wea's me! ey knoas 't reet weel, lort abbut," replied 
Ashbead, " and Bess taks t' sentence sore ta 'ert !" 

"Then let her amend her ways, or heavier punishment will 
befall her," cried Paslew. severely. " ' Sortilegam non patieris 
viverej saith the Levitical law. If she be convicted she shall 
die the death. That she is comely I admit; but it is the 
comeliness of a child of sin. Dost thou know the man with 
whom she is wedded or supposed to be wedded for I have 
seen no proof of the marriage I He is a stranger here." 

"Ey knoas neawt abowt him, lort abbut, 'cept that he cum 
to Pendle a twalmont agoa," replied Ashbead ; " boh ey knoas 
fu' weel that t'eawtcumbling felly robt me ot prettiest lass i' 
aw Lonkyshiar aigh, or i' aw Englondshiar, fo' t' matter o' 
that." 

" What manner of man is he?" inquired the abbot. 

" Oh, he's a feaw teyke a varra feaw teyke," replied Ashbead; 
" wi' a feace as black as a boggart, sooty shiny hewr loike a mow- 
dywarp, an' een loike a stanniel. Boh for running, rostling, an* 
throwing t' stoan, he'n no match i' this keawntry. Ey'n triet him 
at aw three gams, so ey con speak. For't most part he'n a big, 
black bandyhewit wi' him, and, by th' Mess, ey canna help thinkin 
he meys free sumtoimes wi' yor lortship's bucks." 

" Ha ! this must be looked to," cried the abbot. " You say you 
know not whence he comes ? 'Tis strange." 

" T' missmannert carl '11 boide naw questioning odd rottle him !" 
replied Ashbead. " He awnsurs wi' a gibe, or a thwack o' his staff. 
Whon ey last seet him, he threatened t' raddle me booans weel, 
boh ey sooan lowert him a peg." 

" We will find a way of making him speak," said the abbot. 

" He can speak, and right well if he pleases," remarked Father 
Eastgate ; " for though ordinarily silent and sullen enough, yet 
when he doth talk it is not like one of the hinds with whom he 
consorts, but in good set phrase ; and his bearing is as bold as 
that of one who hath seen service in the field." 

" My curiosity is aroused," said the abbot. " I must see him." 

" Noa sooner said than done," cried Ashbead, " for, be t' Lort 
Harry, ey see him stonding be yon moss poo' o' top t' hill, though 
how he'n getten theer t' Dule owny knoas." 

And he pointed out a tall dark figure standing near a little 
pool on the summit of the mountain, about a hundred yards 
from them. 

"Talk of ill^and ill cometh," observed Father Haydocke. 
" And see, the wizard hath a black hound with him ! It may be 
his wife, in that likeness." 

" Naw, ey knoas t' hount reet weel, Feyther Haydocke," replied 
the forester; "it's a Saint Hubert, an' a rareun fo' fox or bado-ert. 



8 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Odds loife, feyther, whoy that's t' black bandy he wit I war speak 
ing on." 

" I like not the appearance of the knave at this juncture," said 
the abbot ; (t yet I wish to confront him, and charge him with his 
midemeanours." 

" Hark; he sings," cried Father Haydocke. And as he spoke 
a voice was heard chanting. 

> 

" One shall sit at a solemn feast, 
Half warrior, half priest, 
The greatest there shall be the least." 

t The very ditty I heard," cried Father Eastgate; " but list, 
he has more of it." And the voice resumed, 

" He shall be rich, yet poor as me, 
Abbot, and Earl of Poverty. 
Monk and soldier, rich and poor, 
He shall be hang'd at his own door." 

Loud derisive laughter followed the song. 

" By our Lady of Whalley, the knave is mocking us," cried the 
abbot ; u send a bolt to silence him, Cuthbert." 

The forester instantly bent his bow, and a quarrel whistled off 
in the direction of the singer ; but whether his aim were not truly 
taken, or he meant not to hit the mark, it is certain that Dem- 
dike remained untouched. The reputed wizard laughed aloud, 
took off his felt cap in acknowledgment, and marched deliberately 
down the side of the hill. 

sc Thou art not wont to miss thy aim, Cuthbert," cried the 
abbot, with a look of displeasure. " Take good heed thou pro- 
ducest this scurril knave before me, when these troublous times 
are over. But what is this?- he stops ha! he is practising his 
devilries on the mountain's side." 

It would seem that the abbot had good warrant for what he 
said, as Demdike, having paused at a broad green patch en the 
hill-side, was now busied in tracing a circle round it with his staff. 
He then spoke aloud some words, which the superstitious beholders 
construed into an incantation, and after tracing the circle once 
again, and casting some tufts of dry heather, which he plucked 
from an adjoining hillock, on three particular spots, he ran quickly 
downwards, followed by his hound, and leaping a stone wall, 
surrounding a little orchard at the foot of the hill, disappeared 
from view. 

" Go and see what he hath done," cried the abbot to the 
forester, " for I like it not." 

Ashbead instantly obeyed, and on reaching the green spot in 
question, shouted out that he could discern nothing; but presently 
added, as he moved about, that the turf heaved like a swuy-bed 
beneath his feet, and he thought to use his own phraseology 



THE BEACON ON PENDLE HILL. 9 

would " brast." The abbot then commanded him to go down to 
the orchard below, and if he could find Demdike to bring him to 
him instantly, The forester did as he was bidden, ran down the 
hill, and, leaping the orchard wall as the other had done, was lost 
to sight. 

Ere long, it became quite dark, and as Ashbead did not re 
appear, the abbot gave vent to his impatience and uneasiness, and 
was proposing to send one of the herdsmen in search of him, when 
his attention was suddenly diverted by a loud shout from one of 
the sentinels, and a fire was seen on a distant hill on the right. 

" The signal ! the signal!" cried Paslew, joyfully. a Kindle a 
torch ! quick, quick ! " 

And as he spoke, he seized a brand and plunged it into the peat 
fire, while his example was followed by the two monks. 

"It is the beacon on Blackstone Edge," cried the abbot; "and 
look ! a second blazes over the Grange of Cliviger another on 
Ightenhill another on Boulsworth Hill and the last on the 
neighbouring heights of Padiham. Our own comes next. May 
it light the enemies of our holy Church to perdition!" 

With this, he applied the burning brand to the combustible 
matter of the beacon. The monks did the same; and in an 
instant a tall, pointed flame, rose up from a thick cloud of smoke. 
Ere another minute had elapsed, similar fires shot up to the right 
and the left, on the high lands of Trawden Forest, on the jagged 
points of Foulridge, on the summit of Cowling Hill, and so on to 
Skipton. Other fires again blazed on the towers of Clithero, on 
Longridge and Ribchester, on the woody eminences of Bowland, 
on Wolf Crag, and on fell and scar all the way to Lancaster. It 
seemed the work of enchantment, so suddenly and so strangely 
did the fires shoot forth. As the beacon flame increased, it lighted 
up the whole of the extensive table-land on the summit of Pendle 
Hill; and a long lurid streak fell on the darkling moss-pool near 
which the wizard had stood. But when it attained its utmost 
height, it revealed the depths of the forest below, and a red 
reflection, here and there, marked the course of Pendle Water, 
The excitement of the abbot and his companions momently in 
creased, and the sentinels shouted as each new beacon was lighted. 
At last, almost every hill had its watch-fire, and so extraordinary 
was the spectacle, that it seemed as if weird beings were abroad, 
and holding their revels on the heights. 

Then it was that the abbot, mounting his steed, called out to 
the monks " Holy fathers, you will follow to the abbey as you 
may. I shall ride fleetly on, and despatch two hundred archers 
to Huddersfield and Wakefield. The abbots of Salley and Jer- 
vaux, with the Prior of Burlington, will be with me at midnight, 
and at daybreak we shall march our forces to join the main army. 
Heaven be with you !" 

" Stay !" cried a harsh, imperious voice. " Stay !" 



10 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

And, to his surprise, the abbot beheld Nicholas Demdike stand 
ing before him. The aspect of the wizard was dark and forbidding, 
and, seen by the beacon light, his savage features, blazing eyes, 
tall gaunt frame, and fantastic garb, made him look like some 
thing unearthly. Flinging his staff over his shoulder, he slowly 
approached, with his black hound following close by at his heels. 

" I have a caution to give you, lord abbot," he said; " hear me 
speak before you set out for the abbey, or ill will befall you." ' 

" 111 will befall me if I listen to thee, thou wicked churl," cried 
the abbot. " What hast thou done with Cuthbert Ashbead?" 

" I have seen nothing of him since he sent a bolt after me at 
your bidding, lord abbot," replied Demdike. 

u Beware lest any harm come to him, or thou wilt rue it," cried 
Paslew. " But I have no time to waste on thee. Farewell, fathers. 
High mass will be said in the convent church before we set out 
on the expedition to-morrow morning. You will both attend it." 

" You will never set out upon the expedition, lord abbot," cried 
Demdike, planting his staff so suddenly into the ground before the 
horse's head that the animal reared and nearlj- threw his rider. 

(i How now, fellow, what mean you?" cried the abbot, furiously. 

tc To warn you," replied Demdike. 

" Stand aside," cried the abbot, spurring his steed, " or I will 
trample you beneath my horse's feet." 

" I might let you ride to your own doom," rejoined Demdike., 
with a scornful laugh, as he seized the abbot's bridle. " But you 
shall hear me. I tell you, you will never go forth on this expedi 
tion. I tell you that, ere to-morrow, Wh'alley Abbey will have 
passed for ever from your possession ; and that, if you go thither 
again, your life will be forfeited. Now will you listen to me?" 

" I am wrong in doing so," cried the abbot, who could not, 
however, repress some feelings of misgiving at this alarming 
address. " Speak, what would you say ? " 

" Come out of earshot of the others, and I will tell you," replied 
Demdike. And he led the abbot's horse to some distance 
further on the hill. 

" Your cause will fail, lord abbot," he then said. " Nay, it is 
lost already." 

" Lost !" cried the abbot, out of all patience. " Lost ! Look 
around. Twenty fires are in sight ay, thirty, and every fire 
thou seest will summon a hundred men, at the least, to arms. 
Before an hour, five hundred men will be gathered before the 
gates of Whalley Abbey." 

u True," replied Demdike ; u but they will not own the Earl of 
Poverty for their leader." 

" What leader will they own, then ? " demanded the abbot, 
scornfully. 

6e The Earl of Derby," replied Demdike. " He is on his way 
thit her with Lord Mounteagle from Preston." 



THE BEACON ON PENDLE HILL. 11 

" Ha!" exclaimed Paslew, "let me go meet them, then. But 
thou triflest with me, fellow. Thou canst know nothing of this. 
Whence gott'st thou thine information 1 " 

" Heed it not," replied the other ; " thou wilt find it correct. I 
tell thee, proud abbot, that this grand scheme of thine and of thy 
fellows, for the restitution of the Catholic Church, has failed 
utterly failed." 

" I tell thee thou liest, false knave ! " cried the abbot, striking 
him on the hand with his scourge. " Quit thy hold, and let me 
go." 

" Not till I have done," replied Demdike, maintaining his grasp. 
" Well hast thou styled thyself Earl of Poverty, for thou art poor 
and miserable enough. Abbot of Whalley thou art no longer. 
Thy possessions will be taken from thee, and if thou returnest thy 
life also will be taken. If thou fleest, a price will be set upon thy 
head. I alone can save thee, and I will do so on one condition." 
" Condition ! make conditions with thee, bond-slave of Satan I" 
cried the abbot, gnashing his teeth. " I reproach myself that I 
have listened to thee so long. Stand aside, or I will strike thee 
dead." 

" You are wholly in my power," cried Demdike with a disdain 
ful laugh. And as he spoke he pressed the large sharp bit 
against the charger's mouth, and backed him quickly to the very 
edge of the hill, the sides of which here sloped precipitously down. 
The abbot would have uttered a cry, but surprise and terror 
kept him silent. 

" Were it my desire- to injure you, I could cast you down the 
mountain-side to certain death," pursued Demdike. " But I have 
no such wish. On the contrary, I will serve you, as 1 have said, 
on one condition." 

" Thy condition would imperil my soul," said the abbot, full of 
wrath and alarm. te Thou seekest in vain to terrify me into 
compliance. Vade retro, Sathanas. I defy thee and all thy works." 
Demdike laughed scornfully. 

" The thunders of the Church do not frighten me," he cried. 
" But, look," he added, " you doubted my word when I told you 
the rising was at an end. The beacon fires on Boulsworth Hill 
and on the Grange of Cliviger are extinguished; that on Padiliam 
Heights is expiring nay, it is out ; and ere many minutes all 
these mountain watch-fires will have disappeared like lamps at 
the close of a feast." 

" By our Lady, it is so," cried the abbot, in increasing terror. 
" What new jugglery is this?" 

" It is no jugglery, I teii you," replied the other. 

" The waters of the Don have again arisen ; the insurgents 

have accepted the king's pardon, have deserted their leaders, and 

dispersed. There will be no rising to-night or on the morrow. 

The abbots of Jervaux and Salley will strive to capitulate, but in 



12 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

vain. The Pilgrimage of Grace is ended. The stake for which 
thou playedst is lost. Thirty years hast thou governed here, but 
thy rule is over. Seventeen abbots have there been of Whalley 
the last thou! but there shall be none more." 

" It must be the Demon in person that speaks thus to me," 
cried the abbot, his hair bristling on his head, and a cold perspira 
tion bursting from his pores. 

" No matter who I am," replied the other ; " I have said I will 
aid thee on one condition. It is not much. Remove thy ban 
from my wife, and baptise her infant daughter, and I am content. 
I would not ask thee for this service, slight though it be, but the 
poor soul hath set her mind upon it. Wilt thou do it ? " 

" No," replied the abbot, shuddering ; " I will not baptise a 
daughter of Satan. I will not sell my soul to the powers of dark 
ness. I adjure thee to depart from me, and tempt me no longer." 

"Vainly thou seekest to cast me off," rejoined Demdike. 
" What if I deliver thine adversaries into thine hands, and revenge 
thee upon them ? Even now there are a party of armed men 
waiting at the foot of the hill to seize thee and thy brethren. 
Shall I show thee how to destroy them ? " 

" Who are they?" demanded the abbot, surprised. 

te Their leaders are John Braddyll and Richard Assheton, 
who shall divide Whalley Abbey between them, if thou stayest 
them not," replied Demdike. 

" Hell consume them !" cried the abbot. 

ct Thy speech shows consent," rejoined Demdike. tc Come this 
way." 

And, without awaiting the abbot's reply, he dragged his horse 
towards the but-end of the mountain. As they went on, the two 
monks, who had been filled with surprise at the interview, though 
they did not dare to interrupt it, advanced towards their superior, 
and looked earnestly and inquiringly at him, but he remained 
silent; while to the men-at-arms and the herdsmen, who demanded 
whether their own beacon-fire should be extinguished as the 
others had been, he answered moodily in the negative. 

"Where are the foes you spoke of?" he asked with some 
uneasiness, as Demdike led his horse slowly and carefully down 
the hill-side. 

" You shall see anon," replied the other. 

" You are taking me to the spot where you traced the magic 
circle," cried Paslew in alarm. " I know it from its unnaturally 
green hue. I will not go thither." 

"I do not mean you should, lord abbot," replied Demdike, 
halting. " Remain on this firm ground. Nay, be not alarmed ; 
you are in no danger. Now bid your men advance, and prepare 
their weapons." 

The abbot would have demanded wherefore, but at a glance 
from Demdike he complied, and the two men-at-arms, and the 



THE ERUPTION. 



13 



herdsmen, arranged themselves beside him, while Fathers 
Eastgate and Haydocke, who had gotten upon their mules, took 
up a position behind. 

Scarcely were they thus placed, when a loud shout was raised 
below, and a band of armed men, to the number of thirty or forty, 
leapt the stone wall, and began to scale the hill with great rapidity. 
They came up a deep dry channel, apparently worn in the hill- 
aide by some former torrent, and which led directly to ^the spot 
where Demdike and the abbot stood. The beacon-fire still blazed 
brightly, and illuminated the whole proceeding, showing that 
these men, from their accoutrements, were royalist soldiers. 

" Stir not, as you value your life/' said the wizard to Paslew ; 
" but observe what shall follow." 



CHAPTER II. THE ERUPTION. 

DEMDIKE went a little further down the hill, stopping when he 
came to the green patch. He then plunged his staff into the sod 
at the first point where he had cast a tuft of heather, and with 
such force that it sank more than three feet. The next moment 
he plucked it forth, as if with a great effort, and a jet of black 
water spouted into the air ; but, heedless of this, he went to the 
next marked spot, and again plunged the sharp point of the im 
plement into the ground. Again it sank to the same depth, and, 
on being drawn out, a second black jet sprung forth. 

Meanwhile the hostile party continued to advance up the dry 
channel before mentioned, and shouted on beholding these strange 
preparations, but they did not relax their speed. Once more the 
staff sank into the ground, and a third black fountain followed its 
extraction. By this time, the royalist soldiers were close at hand, 
and the features of their two leaders, John Braddyll and Richard 
Assheton, could be plainly distinguished, and their voices heard. 

"'Tishe! 'tis the rebel abbot!" vociferated Braddyll, pressing 
forward. "We were not misinformed. He has been watching by- 
the beacon. The devil has delivered him into our hands." 

"Ho! ho!" laughed Demdike. 

Ce Abbot np longer 'tis the Earl of Poverty you mean," respond 
ed Assheton. "The villain shall be gibbeted on the spot where 
he has fired the beacon, as a warning to all traitors." 

"Ha, heretics!- ha, blasphemers! I can at least avenge my 
self upon you," cried Paslew, striking spurs into his charger. But 
ere he could execute his purpose, Demdike had sprung backward, 
and, catching the bridle, restrained the animal by a powerful effort. 

a Hold!" he cried, in a voice of thunder, "or you will share 
their fate." 

As the words were uttered, a dull, booming, subterranean sound 



14 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

was heard, and instantly afterwards, with a crash like thunder, 
the whole of the green circle beneath slipped off, and from a 
yawning rent under it burst forth with irresistible fury, a thick 
inky-coloured torrent, which, rising almost breast high, fell upon 
the devoted royalist soldiers, who were advancing right in its 
course. Unable to avoid the watery eruption, or to resist its 
fury when it came upon them, they were instantly swept from their 
feet, and carried down the channel. 

A sight of horror was it to behold the sudden rise of that swarthy 
stream, whose waters, tinged by the ruddy glare of the beacon- 
fire, looked like waves of blood. Nor less fearful was it to hear 
the first wild despairing cry raised by the victims, or the quickly 
stifled shrieks and groans that followed, mixed with the deafening 
roar of the stream, and the crashing fall of the stones, which ac 
companied its course. Down, down went the poor wretches, now 
utterly overwhelmed by the torrent, now regaining their feet only 
to utter a scream, and then be swept off. Here a miserable strug- 
gler, whirled onward, would clutch at the banks and try to scramble 
forth, but the soft turf giving way beneath him, he was hurried 
off to eternity. 

At another point where the stream encountered some trifling 
opposition, some two or three managed to gain a footing, but they 
were unable to extricate themselves. The vast quantity of boggy 
soil brought down by the current, and which rapidly collected 
here, embedded them and held them fast, so that the momently 
deepening water, already up to their chins, threatened speedy im 
mersion. Others were stricken down by great masses of turf, or 
huge rocky fragments, which, bounding from point to point with 
the torrent, bruised or crushed all they encountered, or, lodging 
in some difficult place, slightly diverted the course of the torrent, 
and rendered it yet more dangerous. 

On one of these stones, larger than the rest, which had been 
stopped in its course, a man contrived to creep, and with difficulty 
kept his post amid the raging flood. Vainly did he extend his 
hand to such of his fellows as were swept shrieking past him. He 
could not lend them aid, while his own position was so desperately 
hazardous that he did not dare to quit it. To leap on either bank 
was impossible, and to breast the headlong stream certain death. 

On goes the current, madly, furiously, as if rejoicing in the work 
of destruction, while the white foam of its eddies presents a fear 
ful contrast to the prevailing blackness of the surface. Over the 
last declivity it leaps, hissing, foaming, crashing like an avalanche. 
The stone wall for a moment opposes its force, but falls the next, 
with a mighty splash, carrying the spray far and wide, while its 
own fragments roll onwards with the stream. The trees of the or 
chard are uprooted in an instant, and an old elm falls prostrate. 
The outbuildings of a cottage are invaded, and the porkers and 
cattle, divining their danger, squeal and bellow in affright. But 



THE ERUPTION. 15 

they are quickly silenced. The resistless foe has broken down 
wall and door, and buried the poor creatures in mud and rubbish. 

The stream next invades the cottage, breaks in through door 
and window, and filling all the lower part of the tenement, in a 
few minutes converts it into a heap of ruin. On goes the destroyer, 
tearing up more trees, levelling more houses, and filling up a small 
pool, till the latter bursts its banks, and, with an accession to its 
force, pours itself into a mill-dam. Here its waters are stayed until 
they find a vent underneath, and the action of the stream, as it. 
rushes downwards through this exit, forms a great eddy above, in 
which swim some living things, cattle and sheep from the fold 
not yet drowned, mixed with furniture from the cottages, and 
amidst them the bodies of some of the unfortunate men-at-arma 
which have been washed hither. 

But, ha ! another thundering crash. The dam has burst. The 
torrent roars and rushes on furiously as before, joins its forces with 
Pendle Water, swells up the river, and devastates the country far 
and wide.* 

The abbot and his companions beheld this work of destruction 
with amazement and dread. Blanched terror sat in their cheeks, 
and the blood was frozen in Paslew's veins ; for he thought it the 
work of the powers of darkness, and that he was leagued with them. 
He tried to mutter a prayer, but his lips refused their office. He 
would have moved, but his limbs were stiffened and paralysed, and 
he could only gaze aghast at the terrible spectacle. 

Amidst it all he heard a wild burst of unearthly laughter, pro 
ceeding, he thought, from Demdike, and it filled him with new 
dread. But he could not check the sound, neither could he stop 
his ears, though he would fain have done so. Like him, his com 
panions were petrified and speechless with fear. 

After this had endured for some time, though still the black 
torrent rushed on impetuously as ever, Demdike turned to the 
abbot and said, 

u Your vengeance has been fully gratified. You will now bap 
tise my child r 

"Never, never, accursed being!" shrieked the abbot. "Thou 
mayst sacrifice her at thine own impious rites. But see, there is 

* A similar eruption occurred at Pendle Hill in August, 1669, and has been de 
scribed by Mr. Charles Townley, in a letter cited by Dr. Whitaker in his excellent 
"History of Whalley." Other and more formidable eruptions had taken place pre 
viously, occasioning much damage to the country. The cause of the phenomenon 
is thus explained by Mr. Townley : " The colour of the water, its coming down to 
the place where it breaks forth between the rock and the earth, with that other par 
ticular of its bringing nothing along but stones and earth, are evident signs that it . 
hath not its origin from the very bowels of the mountain ; but that it is only rain 
water coloured first in the moss-pits, of which the top of tbe hill, being a great and 
considerable plain, is full, shrunk down into some receptacle fit to contain it, until 
at last by its weight, or some other cause, it finds a passage to the sides of the hill, 
a,nd then away between the rock and swarth, until it break the latter and violently 
rush out." 



16 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

one poor wretch yet struggling with the foaming torrent. I may 
save him." 

" That is John Braddyll, thy worst enemy," replied Demdike. 
" If he lives he shall possess half Whalley Abbey. Thou hadst 
best also save Richard Assheton, who yet clings to the great stone 
below, as if he escapes he shall have the other half. Mark him, 
and make haste, for in five minutes both shall be gone." 

"I will save them if I can, be the consequence to myself what 
it may," replied the abbot. 

And, regardless of the derisive laughter of the other, who yelled 
in his ears as he went, "Bess shall see thee hanged at thy cwn 
door!" he dashed down the hill to the spot where a small object, 
distinguishable above the stream, showed that some one still kept 
his head above water, his tall stature having preserved him. 

(t Is it you, John Braddyll ? " cried the abbot, as he rode up. 

"Ay," replied the head. "Forgive me for the wrong I in 
tended you, and deliver me from this great peril." 

" I am come for that purpose," replied the abbot, dismounting, 
and disencumbering himself of his heavy cloak. 

By this time the two herdsmen had come up, and the abbot, 
taking a crook from one of them, clutched hold of the fellow, and, 
plunging fearlessly into the stream, extended it towards the drown 
ing man, who instantly lifted up his hand to grasp it. In doing 
so Braddyll lost his balance, but, as he did not quit his hold, he 
was plucked forth from the tenacious mud by the combined efforts 
of the abbot and his assistant, and with some difficulty dragged 
ashore. 

" Now for the other," cried Paslew, as he placed Braddyll in 
safety. 

u One-half the abbey is gone from thee," shouted a voice in his 
ears as he rushed on. 

Presently he reached the rocky fragment on which Ralph 
Assheton rested. The latter was in great danger from the sur 
ging torrent, and the stone on which he had taken refuge tottered 
at its base, and threatened to roll over. 

" In Heaven's name, help me, lord abbot, as thou thyself shall 
be holpen at thy need ! " shrieked Assheton. 

" Be not afraid, Richard Assheton," replied Paslew. " I will 
deliver thee as I have delivered John Braddyll." 

But the task was not of easy accomplishment. The abbot made 
his preparations as before ; grasped the hand of the herdsman and 
held out the crook to Assheton ; but when the latter caught it, 
the stream swung him round with such force that the abbot must 
either abandon him or advance further into the water. Bent on 
Assheton' s preservation, he adopted the latter expedient, and 
instantly lost his feet ; while the herdsman, unable longer to hold 
him, let go the crook, and the abbot and Assheton were swept 
down the stream together. 



THE ERUPTION. 17 

D own down they went, destruction apparently awaiting them ; 
but the abbot, though sometimes quite under the water, and bruised 
by the rough stones and gravel with which he came in contact, 
still retained his self-possession, and encouraged his companion to 
hope for succour. In this way they were borne down to the foot 
of the hill, the monks, the herdsmen, and the men-at-arms having 
given them up as lost. But they yet lived yet floated though 
greatly injured, and almost senseless, when they were cast into a 
pool formed by the eddying waters at the foot of the hill. Here, 
wholly unable to assist himself, Assheton was seized by a black 
hound belonging to a tall man who stood on the bank, and who 
shouted to Paslew, as he helped the animal to bring the drowning 
man ashore, " The other half of the abbey is gone from thee. 
Wilt thou baptise my child if I send my dog to save thee?" 

"Never!" replied the other, sinking as he spoke. 

Flashes of fire glanced in the abbot's eyes, and stunning sounds 
seemed to burst his ears. A few more struggles, and he became 
senseless. 

But he was not destined to die thus. What happened after 
wards he knew not; but when he recovered full consciousness, he 
found himself stretched, with aching limbs and throbbing head, 
upon a couch in a monastic room, with a richly-painted and gilded 
ceiling, with shields at the corners emblazoned with the three 
luces of Whalley, and with panels hung with tapestry from the 
looms of Flanders, representing divers Scriptural subjects. 

" Have I been dreaming?" he murmured. 

" No," replied a tall man standing by his bedside; " thou hast 
been saved from one death to suffer another more ignominious." - 

"Ha!" cried the abbot, starting up and pressing his hand to 
his temples ; " thou here t " 

" Ay, I am appointed to watch thee," replied Demdike. " Thou 
art a prisoner in thine own chamber at Whalley. All has befallen 
as I told thee. The Earl of Derby is master of the abbey; thy 
adherents are dispersed; and thy brethren are driven forth. Thy 
two partners in rebeUion, the abbots of Jervaux and Salley, have 
been conveyed to Lancaster Castle, whither thou wilt go as soon 
as thou canst be moved." 

" I will surrender all silver and gold, land and possessions 
to the king, if I may die in peace," groaned the abbot. 

u It is not needed," rejoined the other. "Attainted of felony, 
thy lands and abbey will be forfeited to the crown, and they shall 
be sold, as I have told thee, to John Braddyll and Richard 
Assheton, who will be rulers here in thy stead." 

" Would I had perished in the flood !" groaned the abbot. 

ft Well rnayst thou wish so," returned his tormentor; " but thou 
wert not destined to die by water. As I have said, thou shalt be 
hanged at thy own door, and my wife shall witness thy end." 

"Who art thou? I have heard thy voice before," cried the 

C 



18 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

abbot. " It is like the voice of one whom I knew years ago, and 
thy features are like his though changed greatly changed. 
Who art thou?" 

" Thou shalt know before thou diest," replied the other, with a 
look of gratified vengeance. " Farewell, and reflect upon thy fate." 

So saying, he strode towards the door, while the miserable 
abbot arose, and marching with uncertain steps to a little oratory 
adjoining, which he himself had built, knelt down before 
altar, and strove to pray. 



CHAPTER III WHALLEY ABBEY. 

A SAD, sad change hath come over the fair Abbey of Whalley. 
It knoweth its old masters no longer. For upwards of two centuries 
and a half hath the " Blessed Place"* grown in beauty and riches. 
Seventeen abbots have exercised unbounded hospitality within it, 
but now they are all gone, save one ! and he is attainted of felony 
and treason. The grave monk walketh no more in the cloisters, 
nor seeketh his pallet in the dormitory. Vesper or matin-song 
resound not as of old within the fine conventual church. Stripped 
are the altars of their silver crosses, and the shrines of their votive 
offerings and saintly relics. Pyx and chalice, thuribule and vial, 
golden-headed pastoral staff, and mitre embossed with pearls, 
candlestick and Christmas ship of silver ; salver, basin, and ewer 
all are gone the splendid sacristy hath been despoiled. 

A sad, sad change hath come over Whalley Abbey. The 
libraries, well stored with reverend tomes, have been pillaged, and 
their contents cast to the flames ; and thus long laboured manu 
script, the fruit of years of patient industry, with gloriously 
illuminated missal, are irrecoverably lost. The large infirmary no 
longer receiveth the sick ; in the locutory sitteth no more the guest. 
No longer in the mighty kitchens are prepared the prodigious 
supply of meats destined for the support of the poor or the entertain 
ment of the traveller. No kindly porter stands at the gate, to bid the 
stranger enter and partake of the munificent abbot's hospitality, but 
a churlish guard bids him hie away, and menaces him if he tarries 
with his halbert. Closed are the buttery-hatches and the pantries ; 
and the daily dole of bread hath ceased. Closed, also, to the 
brethren is the refectory. The cellarer's office is ended. The 
strong ale which he brewed in October, is tapped in March by 
roystering troopers. The rich muscadel and malmsey, and the 
wines of Gascoigne and the Rhine, are no longer quaffed by the 
abbot and his more honoured guests, but drunk to his destruction 
by his foes. The great gallery, a hundred and fifty feet in length, 
the pride of the abbot's lodging, and a model of architecture, ia 

* Locus Benedictus de Whalley. 



WH ALLEY ABBEY. 19 

filled, not with white-robed ecclesiastics, but with an armed earl 
and his retainers. Neglected is the little oratory dedicated to 
Our Lady of Whalley, where night and morn the abbot used to 
pray. All the old religious and hospitable uses of the abbey are 
foregone. The reverend stillness of the cloisters, scarce broken 
by the quiet tread of the monks, is now disturbed by armed heel 
and clank of sword ; while in its saintly courts are heard the ribald 
song, the profane jest, and the angry brawl. Of the brethren, 
only those tenanting the cemetery are left. All else are gone, 
driven forth, as vagabonds, with stripes and curses, to seek refuge 
where they may. 

A sad, sad change has come over Whalley Abbey. In the pleni 
tude of its pride aud power has it been cast down, desecrated, 
despoiled. Its treasures are carried off, its ornaments sold, its 
granaries emptied, its possessions wasted, its storehouses sacked, 
its cattle slaughtered and sold. But, though stripped of its wealth 
and splendour ; though deprived of all the religious graces that, 
like rich incense, lent an odour to the fane, its external beauty is 
yet unimpaired, and its vast proportions undiminished. 

A stately pile was Whalley one of the loveliest as well as the 
largest in the realm. Carefully had it been preserved by its 
reverend rulers, and where reparations or additions were needed 
they were judiciously made. Thus age had lent it beauty, by 
mellowing its freshness and toning its hues, while no decay was 
perceptible. Without a struggle had it yielded to the captor, so 
that no part of its wide belt of walls or towers, though so strongly 
constructed as to have offered effectual resistance, were injured. 

Never had Whalley Abbey looked more beautiful than on a 
bright clear morning in March, when this sad change had been 
wrought, and when, from a peaceful monastic establishment, it had 
been converted into a menacing fortress. The sunlight sparkled 
upon its grey walls, and filled its three great quadrangular courts 
with light and life, piercing the exquisite carving of its cloisters, 
and revealing all the intricate beauty and combinations of the 
arches. Stains of painted glass fell upon the floor of the magnifi 
cent conventual church, and dyed with rainbow hues the marble 
tombs of the Lacies, the founders of the establishment, brought 
thither when the monastery was removed from Stanlaw in Cheshire, 
and upon the brass-covered gravestones of the abbots in the presby 
tery. There lay Gregory de Northbury, eighth abbot of Stanlaw and 
first of Whalley, and William Rede, the last abbot; but there was 
never to lie John Paslew. The slumber of the ancient prelates was 
soon to be disturbed, and the sacred structure within which they had 
so often worshipped up-reared by sacrilegious hands. But all was 
bright and beauteous now, and if no solemn strains were heard in 
the holy pile, its stillness was scarcely less reverential and awe- 
inspiring. The old abbey wreathed itself in all its attractions, as 
if to welcome back its former ruler, whereas it was only to receive 
him as a captive doomed to a felon's death, 



20 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

But this was outward show. Within all was terrible preparation. 
Such was the discontented state of the country, that fearing some 
new revolt, the Earl of Derby had taken measures for the defence 
of the abbey, and along the wide-circling walls of the close were 
placed ordnance and men, and within the grange stores of ammu 
nition. A strong guard was set at each of the gates, and the courts 
were filled with troops. The bray of the trumpet echoed within 
the close, where rounds were set for the archers, and martial music 
resounded within the area of the cloisters. Over the great north 
eastern gateway, which formed the chief entrance to the abbot's 
lodging, floated the royal banner. Despite these warlike proceed 
ings the fair abbey smiled beneath the sun, in all, or more than 
all, its pristine beauty, its green hills sloping gently down towards 
it, and the clear and sparkling Calder dashing merrily over the 
stones at its base. 

But upon the bridge, and by the river side, and within the 
little village, many persons were assembled, conversing gravely 
and anxiously together, and looking out towards the hills, where 
other groups were gathered, as if in expectation of some afflicting 
event. Most of these were herdsmen and farming men, but some 
among them were poor monks in the white habits of the Cister- 
tian brotherhood, but which were now stained and threadbare, 
while their countenances bore traces of severest privation and 
suffering. All the herdsmen and farmers had been retainers of 
the abbot. The poor monks looked wistfully at their former 
habitation, but replied not except by a gentle bowing of the head 
to the cruel scoffs and taunts with which they were greeted by 
the passing soldiers ; but the sturdy rustics did not bear these 
outrages so tamely, and more than one brawl ensued, in which 
blood flowed, while a ruffianly arquebussier would have been 
drowned in the Calder but for the exertions to save him of a monk 
whom he had attacked. 

This took place on the eleventh of March, 1537 more than 
three months after the date of the watching by the beacon before 
recorded and the event anticipated by the concourse without the 
abbey, as well a,s by those within its walls, was the arrival of 
Abbot Paslew and Fathers Eastgate and Haydocke, who were to 
be brought on that day from Lancaster, and executed on the fol 
lowing morning before the abbey, according to sentence passed 
upon them. 

The gloomiest object in the picture remains to be described, 
but yet it is necessary to its completion. This was a gallows of 
unusual form and height, erected on the summit of a gentle hill, 
rising immediately in front of the abbot's lodgings, called the 
Holehouses, whose rounded, bosomy beauty it completely de 
stroyed. This terrible apparatus of condign punishment was 
regarded with abhorrence by the rustics, and it required a strong 
guard to be kept constantly round it to preserve it from de 
molition. 



WHALLEY ABBEY. 21 

Amongst a group of rustics collected on the road leading to 
the north-east gateway, was Cuthbert Ashbead, who, having been 
deprived of his forester's office, was now habited in a frieze doub 
let and hose, with a short camlet cloak on his shoulder, and a 
fox-skin cap, embellished with the grinning jaws of the beast on 
his head. 

"Eigh, Ruchot o' Roaph's," he observed to a bystander, 
" that's^ a fearfo seet that gallas. Yoan been up to t' Holehouses 
to tey a look at it, beloike ? " 

"Naw, naw, ey dunna loike such seets," replied Ruchot o' Roaph's; 
" besoide there wor a great rabblement at t' geate, an one o' them 
lunjus archer chaps knockt men o' t' nob wi' his poike, an towd 
me he'd hong me wi' t' abbut, if ey didna keep owt ot wey." 

"An sarve te reet too, theaw craddinly carl !" cried Ashbead, 
doubling his horny fists. " Odds flesh ! whey didna yo ka' a 
tussle wi' him ? Mey honts are itchen for a bowt wi' t' heretic 
robbers. Walladey ! walladey ! that we should live to see t' oly 
feythers driven loike hummobees owt o' t' owd neest. Whey they 
sayn ot King Harry hon decreet ot we're to ha' naw more monks 
or friars i* aw Englondshiar. Ony think o' that. An dunna yo 
knoa that t' Abbuts o' Jervaux an Salley wor hongt o' Tizeday at 
Loncaster Castle?" 

"Good lorjus bless us!" exclaimed a sturdy hind, "we'n a 
protty king. Furst he chops off his woife's heaod, an then honga 
aw t' priests. Whot'll t' warlt cum to 1 

"Eigh by t' mess, whot win it cum to?" cried Ruchot o' 
Roaph's. " But we darrna oppen owr mows fo' fear o' a gog." 

" Naw, beleady ! boh eyst oppen moine woide enuff," cried Ash 
bead ; " an' if a dozen o' yo chaps win join me, eyn try to set t' 
poor abbut free whon they brinks him here." 

"Ey'd as leef boide till to-morrow," said Ruchot o' Roaph's, 
uneasily. 

" Eigh, thou'rt a timmersome teyke, os ey towd te efore," re 
plied Ashbead. u But whot dust theaw say, Hal o' Nabs ? " he 
added, to the sturdy hind who had recently spoken. 

" Ey'n spill t' last drop o' meh blood i' t' owd abbut's keawse," 
replied Hal o' Nabs. " We winna stond by, an see him hongt 
loike a dog. Abbut Paslew to t' reskew, lads ! " 

"Eigh, Abbut Paslew to t' reskew!" responded all the others, 
except Ruchot o' Roaph's. 

" This must be prevented," muttered a voice near them. And 
immediately afterwards a tall man quitted the group. 

" Whoa wor it spoake ?" cried Hal o' Nabs. " Oh, ey seen, 
that he-witch, Nick Demuike." 

" Nick Demdike here !" cried Ashbead, looking round in alarm. 
" Has he owerheert us ? " 

" Loike enow," replied Hal o' Nabs. " But ey didna moind 
him efore." 



22 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

(( Xaw ey noather," cried Ruchot o' Roaph's, crossing himself, 
and spitting on the ground. "Owr Leady o' Whalley shielt 
us fro' t' warlock!" 

'Tawkin o' Nick Demdike," cried Hal o' Nabs, yo'd a 
strawnge odventer wi' him t' neet o' t' great brast o* Pendle 
Hill, hadna yo, Cuthbert?" 

" Yeigh, t' firrups tak' him, ey hadn," replied Ashbead. 
(s Theawst hear aw abowt it if t' will. Ey wur sent be t' abbut 
down t' hill to Owen o' Gab's, o' Perkin's, o' Dannel's, o' Noll's, 
o' Oamfrey's orchert i' Warston lone, to luk efter him. Weel, 
whon ey gets ower t' stoan wa', whot dun yo think ey sees ! 
twanty or throtty poikemen stonding behint it, an they deshes 
at meh os thick os leet, an efore ey con roor oot, they blintfowlt 
meh, an clap an iron gog i' meh mouth. Weel, I con noather 
speak nor see, boh ey con use meh feet, soh ey punses at 'em 
reet an' laft; an be mah troath, lads, yood'n a leawght t' hear how 
they roart, an ey should a roart too, if I couldn, whon they 
began to thwack me wi' their raddling pows, and ding'd meh so 
abowt t' heoad, that ey fell i' a swownd. Whon ey cum to, ey 
wur loyin o' meh back i' Rimington Moor. Every booan i' 
meh hoide wratcht, an meh hewr war clottert wi' gore, boh 
t' eebond an t' gog wur gone, soh ey gets o' meh feet, and 
daddies along os weel os ey con, whon aw ot wunce ey spies 
a leet glenting efore meh, an dawncing abowt loike an awf or 
a wull-o'-whisp. Thinks ey, that's Friar Rush an' his lantern, 
an he'll lead me into a quagmire, soh ey stops a bit, to consider 
where ey'd getten, for ey didna knoa t' reet road exactly ; boh 
whon ey stood still, t' leet stood still too, on then ey meyd owt 
that it cum fro an owd ruint tower, an whot ey'd fancied wur one 
lantern proved twanty, fo' whon ey reacht t' tower an peept in 
thro' a brok'n winda, ey beheld a seet ey'st neer forgit apack o' 
witches eigh, witches! sittin' in a ring, wi' their broomsticks 
an lanterns abowt em !" 

"Good lorjus deys!" cried Hal o' Nabs. u An whot else 
didsta see, mon ? " 

" Whoy," replied Ashbead, " t'owd hags had a little figure i' tf 
midst on 'em, mowded i' cley, representing t' abbut o' Whalley, 
ey knoad it be't moitre and crosier, an efter each o' t' 
varment had stickt a pin i' its 'eart, a tall black mon stepped 
for'ard, an teed a cord rownd its throttle, an hongt it up." 

" An' t' black mon," cried Hal o' Nabs, breathlessly, " t' 
black mon wur Nick Demdike ? " 

" Yoan guest it," replied Ashbead, rf 't wur he ! Ey wur so 
glopp'nt, ey couldna speak, an' meh blud fruz i' meh veins, when 
ey heerd a fearfo voice ask Nick wheere his woife an' chilt were. 
6 The infant is unbaptised,' roart t' voice, * at the next meeting it 
must be sacrificed. See that thou bring it.' Demdike then 
bowed to Summat I couldna see, an axt when t' next meeting 



WH ALLEY ABBEY. 23 

wur to be held. < On the night of Abbot PasleVs execution/ 
awnsert t' voice. On hearing this, ey could bear nah lunger, 
boh shouted out, ' Witches ! devils! Lort deliver us fro' ye!' 
An ' os ey spoke, ey tried t' barst thro' t' winda. In a trice, aw 
t' leets went out ; thar wur a great rash to t' dooer ; a whirrin 
sound i' th' air loike a covey o' partriches fleeing off; and then 
ey heerd nowt more ; for a great stoan fell o' meh scoance, an' 
knockt me down senseless. When I cum' to, I wur i' Nick 
Dem dike's cottage, wi' his woife watching ower me, and th' 
unbapteesed chilt i' her arms." 

All exclamations of wonder on the part of the rustics, and 
inquiries as to the issue of the adventure, were checked by the 
approach of a monk, who, joining the assemblage, called their 
attention to a priestly train slowly advancing along the road. 

" It is headed," he said, " by Fathers Chatburne and Chester, 
late bursers of the abbey. Alack ! alack ! they now need the 
charity themselves which they once so lavishly bestowed on 
others." 

" Waes me ! " ejaculated Ashbead. " Monry a broad merk 
ban ey getten fro 'em." 

u They'n been koind to us aw," added the others. 

"Next come Father Burnley, granger, and Father Haworth, 
cellarer," pursued the monk ; " and after them Father Dinkley, 
sacristan, and Father Moore, porter. " 

et Yo remember Feyther Moore, lads," cried Ashbead. 

" Yeigh, to be sure we done," replied the others ; " a good mon, 
a reet good mon ! He never sent away t' poor naw he !" 

"After Father Moore," said the monk, pleased with their 
warmth, " comes Father Forrest, the procurator, with Fathers 
Rede, Clough, and Bancroft, and the procession is closed by 
Father Smith, the late prior." 

" Down o' yer whirlybooans, lads, as t' oly feythers pass," cried 
Ashbead, " and crave their blessing." 

And as the priestly train slowly approached, with heads 
bowed down, and looks fixed sadly upon the ground, the rustic 
assemblage fell upon their knees, and implored then: benediction. 
The foremost in the procession passed on in silence, but the prior 
stopped, and extending his hands over the kneeling group, cried 
in a solemn voice, 

"Heaven bless ye, my children! Ye are about to witness a 
sad spectacle. You will see him who hath clothed you, fed you, 
and taught you the way to heaven, brought hither a prisoner, to 
suffer a shameful death." 

" Boh we'st set him free, oly prior," cried Ashbead. rt We'n 
meayed up our moinds to 't. Yo just wait till he cums." 

" Nay, I command you to desist from the attempt, if any such 
you meditate," rejoined the prior ; "it will avail nothing, and you 



24 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

will only sacrifice your own lives. Our enemies are too strong. 
The abbot himself would give you like counsel." 

Scarcely were the words uttered than from the great gate of 
the abbey there issued a dozen arquebussiers with an officer at 
their head, who marched directly towards the kneeling hinds, 
evidently with the intention of dispersing them. Behind them 
strode Nicholas Demdike.. In an instant the alarmed rustics 
were on their feet, and Ruchot o' Roaph's, and some few among 
them, took to their heels, but Ashbead, Hal o' Nabs, with half a 
dozen others, stood their ground manfully. The monks remained 
in the hope of preventing any violence. Presently the halberdiers 
came up. 

" That is the ringleader," cried the officer, who proved to be 
Richard Assheton, pointing out Ashbead; " seize him !" 

" Naw mon shall lay honts o' meh," cried Cuthbert. 

And as the guard pushed past the monks to execute their 
leader's order, he sprang forward* and, wresting a halbert from the 
foremost of them, stood upon hL defence. 

" Seize him, I say ! '" shouted Assheton, irritated at the resistance 
offered. 

" Keep off," cried Ashbead ; " yo'd best. Loike a stag at bey 
ey'm dawngerous. Waar horns ! waar horns ! ey sey." 

The arquebussiers looked irresolute. It was evident Ashbead 
would only be taken with life, and they were not sure that it was 
their leader's purpose to destroy him. 

" Put down thy weapon, Cuthbert," interposed the prior ; " it 
will avail thee nothing against odds like these." 

" Mey be, 'oly prior," rejoined Ashbead, flourishing the pike : 
" boh ey'st ony yield wi' loife." 

" I will disarm him," cried Demdike, stepping forward. 

" Theaw !" retorted Ashbead, with a scornful laugh, i( Cum on, 
then. Hadsta aw t' fiends i' hell at te back, ey shouldna fear thee." 

ft Yield ! " cried Demdike in a voice of thunder, and fixing a 
terrible glance upon him. 

" Cum on, wizard," rejoined Ashbead undauntedly. But, 
observing that his opponent was wholly unarmed, he gave the 
pike to Hal o' Nabs, who was close beside him, observing, " It 
shall never be said that Cuthbert Ashbead feawt t' dule himsel 
unfairly. Nah, touch me if theaw dar'st." 

Demdike required no further provocation. With almost super 
natural force and quickness he sprung upon the forester, and 
seized him by the throat. But the active young man freed 
himself from the gripe, and closed with his assailant. But though 
of Herculean build, it soon became evident that Ashbead would 
have the worst of it ; when Hal o' Nabs, who had watched the 
struggle with intense interest, could not help coming to his friend's 
assistance, and made a push at Demdike with the halbert. 



WHALLEY ABBEY. 25 

Could it be that the wrestlers shifted their position, or that the 
wizard was indeed aided by the powers of darkness ? None could 
tell, but so it was that the pike pierced the side of Ashbead, who 
instantly fell to the ground, with his adversary upon him. The 
next instant his hold relaxed, and the wizard sprang to his feet 
unharmed, but deluged in blood. Hal o' Nabs uttered a cry of 
keenest anguish, and, flinging himself upon the body of the 
forester, tried to staunch the wound ; but he was quickly seized 
by the arquebussiers, and his hands tied behind his back with a 
thong, while Ashbead was lifted up and borne towards the abbey, 
the monks and rustics following slowly after ; but the latter were 
not permitted to enter the gate. 

As the unfortunate keeper, who by this time had become insen 
sible from loss of blood, was carried along the walled enclosure 
leading to the abbot's lodging, a female with a child in her arms 
was seen advancing from the opposite side. She was tall, finely 
formed, with features of remarkable beauty, though of a masculine 
and somewhat savage character, and with magnificent but fierce 
black eyes. Her skin was dark, and her hair raven black, con 
trasting strongly with the red band wound around it. Her kirtle 
was of murrey-coloured serge ; simply, but becomingly fashioned. 
A glance sufficed to show her how matters stood with poor 
Ashbead, and, uttering a sharp angry cry, she rushed towards him. 

" What have you done f " she cried, fixing a keen reproachful 
look on Demdike, who walked beside the wounded man. 

66 Nothing,'* replied Demdike with a bitter laugh ; " the fool has 
been hurt with a pike. Stand out of the way, Bess, and let the 
men pass. They are about to carry him to the cell under the 
chapter-house." 

" You shall not take him there," cried Bess Demdike, fiercely. 
<( He may recover if his wound be dressed. Let him go to 
the infirmary ha, I forgot there is no one there now." 

" Father Bancroft is at the gate," observed one of the 
arquebussiers ; "he used to act as chirurgeon in the abbey." 

" No monk must enter the gate except the prisoners when they 
arrive," observed Assheton ; " such are the positive orders of the 
Earl of Derby." 

" It is not needed," observed Demdike, " no human aid can save 
the man." 

" But can other aid save him ?" said Bess, breathing the words 
in her husband's ears. 

" Go to !" cried Demdike, pushing her roughly aside ; "wouldst 
have me save thy lover ? " 

" Take heed," said Bess, in a deep whisper ; " if thou save him 
not, by the devil thou servest ! thou shalt lose me and thy child." 

Demdike did not think proper to contest the point, but, 
approaching Assheton, requested that the wounded man might be 



26 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

conveyed to an arched recess, which he pointed out. Assent 
being given, Ashbead was taken there, and placed upon the 
ground, after which the arquebussiers and their leader marched 
off; while Bess, kneeling down, supported the head of the wounded 
man upon her knee, and Demdike, taking a small phial from his 
doublet, poured some of its contents down his throat. The wizard 
then took a fold of linen, with which he was likewise provided, 
and, dipping it in the elixir, applied it to the wound. 

In a few moments Ashbead opened his eyes, and looking round 
wildly, fixed his gaze upon Bess, who placed her finger upon her 
lips to enjoin silence, but he could not, or would not, understand 
the sign. 

" AVs o'er wi' meh, Bess," he groaned; te but ey'd reyther dee 
thus, wi' thee besoide meh, than i' ony other wey." 

" Hush ! " exclaimed Bess, " Nicholas is here." 

" Oh ! ey see," replied the wounded man, looking round; "boh 
whot matters it ? Ey'st be gone soon. Ah, Bess, dear lass, if 
theavvdst promise to break thy compact wi' Satan to repent and 
save thy precious sowl ey should dee content." 

" Oh, do not talk thus!" cried Bess. "You will soon be 
well again. 

"Listen to me," continued Ashbead, earnestly; "dust na knoa 
that if thy babe be na bapteesed efore to-morrow neet, it'll be 
sacrificed to t' Prince o' Darkness. Go to some o' t' oly feythers 
confess thy sins an' implore heaven's forgiveness an' mayhap 
they'll save thee an' thy infant." 

" And be burned as a witch," rejoined Bess, fiercely. " It is 
useless, Cuthbert ; I have tried them all. I have knelt to them, 
implored them, but their hearts are hard as flints. They will not 
heed me. They will not disobey the abbot's cruel injunctions, 
though he be their superior no longer. But I shall be avenged 
upon him terribly avenged. 

" Leave meh, theaw wicked woman," cried Ashbead ; " ey 
dunna wish to ha' thee near meh. Let meh dee i' peace." 

Thou wilt not die, I tell thee, Cuthbert," cried Bess ; " Ni 
cholas hath staunched thy wound." 

"He stawncht it, seyst to?" cried Ashbead, raising. "Ey'st 
never owe meh loife to him." 

And before he could be prevented he tore off the bandage, and 
the blood burst forth anew. 

" It is not my fault if he perishes now," observed Demdike, 
moodily. 

" Help him help him!" implored Bess. 

" He shanna touch meh," cried Ashbead, struggling and in 
creasing the effusion. " Keep him off, ey adjure thee. Farewell, 
Bess," he added, sinking back utterly exhausted by the effort. 

" Cuthbert I " screamed Bess, terrified by his looks, " Cuthbert ! 



THE MALEDICTION. 27 

art thou really dying? Look at me, speak to me ! Ha !" she cried, 
as if seized by a sudden idea, " they say the blessing of a dying 
man will avail. Bless rny child, Cuthbert, bless it !" 

" Give it me !" groaned the forester. 

Bess held the infant towards him ; but before he could place his 
hands upon it ah! power forsook him, and he fell back and 
expired. 

" Lost ! lost ! for ever lost !" cried Bess, with a wild shriek. 

At this moment a loud blast was blown from the gate-tower, 
and a trumpeter called out, 

" The abbot and the two other prisoners are coming." 

" To thy feet, wench!" cried Demdike, imperiously, and seiz 
ing the bewildered woman by the arm; "to thy feet, and come 
with me to meet him ! " 



CHAPTER IV. THE MALEDICTION. 

THE captive ecclesiastics, together with the strong escort by 
which they were attended, under the command of John Braddyll, 
the high sheriff of the county, had passed the previous night at 
Whitewell, in Bowland Forest ; and the abbot, before setting out 
on his final journey, was permitted to spend an hour in prayer in 
a little chapel on an adjoining hill, overlooking a most picturesque 
portion of the forest, the beauties of which were enhanced by the 
windings of the Hodder, one of the loveliest streams in Lan 
cashire. His devotions performed, Paslew, attended by a guard, 
slowly descended the hill, and gazed his last on scenes familiar to 
him almost from infancy. Noble trees, which now looked like 
old friends, to whom he was bidding an eternal adieu, stood around 
him. Beneath them, at the end of a glade, couched a herd of 
deer, which started off at sight of the intruders, and made him 
envy their freedom and fleetness as he followed them in thought 
to their solitudes. At the foot of a steep rock ran the Hodder, 
making the pleasant music of other days as it dashed over its 
pebbly bed, and recalling times, when, free from all care, he had 
strayed by its wood-fringed banks, to listen to the pleasant sound 
of running waters, and watch the shining pebbles beneath them, 
and the swift trout and dainty umber glancing past. 

A bitter pang was it to part with scenes so fair, and the abbot 
spoke no word, nor even looked up, until, passing Little Mitton, 
he came in sight of Whalley Abbey. Then, collecting all his 
energies, he prepared for the shock he was about to endure. But 
nerved as he was, his firmness was sorely tried when he beheld 
the stately pile, once his own, now gone from him and his for 
ever. He gave one fond glance towards it, and then painfully 
averting his gaze, recited, in a low voice, this supplication : 



28 THE LANCASHIRE WITCIIKS. 

u Miserere mei, .Deus, secundum magnam misericordiain tuam. Et 
secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, dele iniquitatem meam. 
Amplius lava me ab iniquitate med, et a peccato meo munda me." 

But other thoughts and other emotions crowded upon him, 
when he beheld the groups of his old retainers advancing to meet 
him: men, women, and children pouring forth loud lamentations, 
prostrating themselves at his feet, and deploring his doom. The 
abbot's fortitude had a severe trial here, and the tears sprung to 
his eyes. The devotion of these poor people touched him more 
sharply than the severity of his adversaries. 

" Bless ye ! bless ye ! my children," he cried ; " repine not for 
me, for I bear my cross with resignation. It is for me to bewail 
your lot, much fearing that the flock I have so long and so 
zealously tended will fall into the hands of other and less heedful 
pastors, or, still worse, of devouring wolves. Bless ye, rny children, 
and be comforted. Think of the end of Abbot Paslew, and for 
what he suffered." 

" Think that he was a traitor to the king, and took up arms in 
rebellion against him," cried the sheriff, riding up, and speaking 
in a loud voice ; " and that for his heinous offences he was justly 
condemned to death." 

Murmurs arose at this speech, but they were instantly checked 
by the escort. 

" Think charitably of me, my children," said the abbot ; " and 
the blessed Virgin keep you steadfast in your faith. Benedicite !" 

" Be silent, traitor, I command thee," cried the sheriff, striking 
him with his gauntlet in the face. 

The abbot's pale cheek burnt crimson, and his eye flashed fire, 
but he controlled himself, and answered meekly, 

u Thou didst not speak in such wise, John Braddyll, when I 
saved thee from the flood." 

" Which flood thou thyself caused to burst forth by devilish 
arts," rejoined the sheriff. " I owe thee little for the service. If 
for naught else, thou deservest death for thy evil doings on that 
night." 

The abbot made no reply, for Braddyll's allusion conjured up 
a sombre train of thought within his breast, awakening appre 
hensions which he could neither account for, nor shake off. 
Meanwhile, the cavalcade slowly approached the north-east 
gateway of the abbey passing through crowds of kneeling and 
sorrowing bystanders ; but so deeply was the abbot engrossed 
by the one dread idea that possessed him, that he saw them not, 
and scarce heard their woful lamentations. All at once the 
cavalcade stopped, and the sheriff rode on to the gate, in the 
opening of which some ceremony was observed. Then it was that 
Paslew raised his eyes, and beheld standing before him a tall man, 
with a woman beside him bearing an infant in her arms. The 
eyes of the pair were fixed upon him with vindictive exultation. 



THE MALEDICTION. 29 

lie would have averted his gaze, but an irresistible fascination 
withheld him. 

" Thou seest all is prepared," said Demdike, coming close up 
to the mule on which Paslew was mounted, and pointing to the 
gigantic gallows, looming above the abbey walls; "wilt thou now 
accede to my request 1 " And then he added, significantly " on 
the same terms as before." 

The abbot understood his meaning well. Life and freedom 
were offered him by a being, whose power to accomplish his 
promise he did not doubt. The struggle was hard; but he 
resisted the temptation, and answered firmly, 

"No." 

"Then die the felon death thou meritest," cried Bess, fiercely; 
" and I will glut mine eyes with the spectacle." 

Incensed beyond endurance, the abbot looked sternly at her, 
and raised his hand in denunciation. The action and the look 
were so appalling, that the affrighted woman would have fled if 
her husband had not restrained her. 

" By the holy patriarchs and prophets ; by the prelates and 
confessors; by the doctors of the church; by the holy abbots^ 
monks, and eremites, who dwelt in solitudes, in mountains, and 
in caverns ; by the holy saints and martyrs, who suffered torture 
and death for their faith, I curse thee, witch!" cried Paslew. 
" May the malediction of Heaven and all its hosts alight on the 
head of thy infant " 

" Oh ! holy abbot," shrieked Bess, breaking from her husband, 
and flinging herself at PasleVs feet, " curse me, if thou wilt, but 
spare my innocent child. Save it, and we will save thee." 

" Avoid thee, wretched and impious woman," rejoined the 
abbot ; " I have pronounced the dread anathema, and it cannot 
be recalled. Look at the dripping garments of thy child. In 
blood has it been baptised, and through blood-stained paths shall 
its course be taken." 

u Ha!" shrieked Bess, noticing for the first time the ensanguined 
condition of the infant's attire. " Cuthbert's blood oh !" 

" Listen to me, wicked woman," pursued the abbot, as if filled 
with a prophetic spirit. " Thy child's life shall be long beyond 
the ordinary term of woman but it shall be a life of woe and ill." 

" Oh! stay him stay him ; or I shall die !" cried Bess. 

But the wizard could not speak. A greater power than his own 
apparently overmastered him. 

" Children shah 1 she have," continued the abbot, " and children s 
children, but they shah 1 be a race doomed and accursed a brood 
of adders, that the world shall flee from and crush. A thing 
accursed, and shunned by her fellows, shall thy daughter be 
evil reputed and evil doing. No hand to help her no lip to 
bless her life a burden; and death long, long in coming finding 



30 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

her in a dismal dungeon. Now, depart from me, and trouble me 
no more." 

Bess made a motion as if she would go, and then turning, partly 
round, dropped heavily on the ground. Demdike caught the child 
ere she fell. 

" Thou hast killed her!" he cried to the abbot. 

" A stronger voice than mine hath spoken, if it be so," rejoined 
Paslew. <6 Fuge miserrime, fuge maleftce, quia judex adest iratUs" 

At this moment the trumpet again sounded, and the cavalcade 
being put in motion, the abbot and his fellow-captives passed 
through the gate. 

Dismounting from their mules within the court, before the 
chapter-house, the captive ecclesiastics, preceded by the sheriff, 
were led to the principal chamber of the structure, where the 
Earl of Derby awaited them, seated in the Gothic carved oak 
chair, formerly occupied by the Abbots of Whalley on the occa 
sions of conferences or elections. The earl was surrounded by 
his officers, and the chamber was filled with armed men. The 
abbot slowly advanced towards the earl. His deportment was 
dignified and firm, even majestic. The exaltation of spirit, occa 
sioned by the interview with Demdike and his wife, had passed 
away, and was succeeded by a profound calm. The hue of his 
cheek was livid, but otherwise he seemed wholly unmoved. 

The ceremony of delivering up the bodies of the prisoners to 
the earl was gone through by the sheriff, and their sentences 
were then read aloud by a clerk. After this the earl, who had 
hitherto remained covered, took off his cap, and in a solemn voice 
spoke : 

u John Paslew, somewhile Abbot of Whalley, but now an 
attainted and condemned felon, and John Eastgate and William 
Haydocke, formerly brethren of the same monastery, and con 
federates with him in crime, ye have heard your doom. To 
morrow you shall die the ignominious death of traitors ; but the 
king in his mercy, having regard not so much to the heinous 
nature of your offences towards his sovereign majesty as to the 
sacred offices you once held, and of which you have been shame 
fully deprived, is graciously pleased to remit that part of your 
sentence, whereby ye are condemned to be quartered alive, willing 
that the hearts which conceived so much malice and violence 
against him should cease to beat within your own bosoms, and 
that the arms which were raised in rebellion against him should 
be interred in one common grave with the trunks to which they 
belong." 

t( God save the high and puissant king, Henry the Eighth, and 
free him from all traitors !" cried the clerk. 

"We humbly thank his majesty for his clemency," said the 
abbot, amid the profound silence that ensued; "and I pray you, 



THE MALEDICTION. 31 

my good lord, when you shall write to the king concerning us, to 
say to his majesty that we died penitent of many and grave offences, 
amongst the which is chiefly that of having taken up arms un 
lawfully against him, but that we did so solely with the view of 
freeing his highness from evil counsellors, and of re-establishing 
our holy church, for the which-we would willingly die, if our death 
might in anywise profit it." 

"Amen !" exclaimed Father Eastgate, who stood with his hands 
crossed upon his breast, close behind Paslew. " The abbot hath 
uttered my sentiments." 

" He hath not uttered mine," cried Father Haydocke. " I ask 
no grace from the bloody Herodias, and will accept none. What 
I have done I would do again, were the past to return nay, I 
would do more I would find a way to reach the tyrant's heart, 
and thus free our church from its worst enemy, and the land from 
a ruthless oppressor:" 

st Remove him," said the earl ; u the vile traitor shall be dealt 
with as he merits. For you," he added, as the order was obeyed, 
and addressing the other prisoners, " and especially you, John 
Paslew, who have shown some compunction for your crimes, and 
to prove to you that the king is not the ruthless tyrant he hath 
been just represented, I hereby in his name promise you any boon, 
which you may ask consistently with your situation. What favour 
would you have shown you?" 

The abbot reflected for a moment. 

" Speak thou, John Eastgate," said the Earl of Derby, seeing 
that the abbot was occupied in thought. 

u If I may proffer a request, my lord," replied the monk, " it is 
that our poor distraught brother, William Haydocke, be spared the 
quartering block. He meant not what he said." 

" Well, be it as thou wilt," replied the earl, bending his brows, 
" though he ill deserves such grace. Now, John Paslew, what 
wouldst thou ?" 

Thus addressed, the abbot looked up. 

" I would have made the same request as my brother, John East- 
gate, if he had not anticipated me, my lord," said Paslew ; but 
since his petition is granted, I would, on my own part, entreat 
that mass be said for us in the convent church. Many of the 
brethren are without the abbey, and, if permitted, will assist at its 
performance." 

"I know not if I shall not incur the king's displeasure in assenting," 
replied the Earl of Derby, after a little reflection; "but I will hazard 
it. Mass for the dead shall be said in the church at midnight, and 
ah 1 the brethren who choose to come thither shall be permitted to 
assist at it. They will attend, I doubt not, for it will be the last 
time the rites of the Eomish Church will be performed in those 
walls. They shah 1 have all required for the ceremonial." 

" Heaven's blessings on you, my lord," said the abbot. 



32 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" But first pledge me your sacred word," said the earl, " by the 
holy office you once held, and by the saints in whom you trust, 
that this concession shall not be made the means of any attempt 
at flight." 

" I swear it," replied the abbot, earnestly. 

" And I also swear it," added Father Eastgate. 

" Enough," said the earl. " I will give the requisite orders. 
Notice of the celebration of mass at midnight shall be proclaimed 
without the abbey. Now remove the prisoners." 

Upon this the captive ecclesiastics were led forth. Father East- 
gate was taken to a strong room in the lower part of the chapter 
house, where all acts of discipline had been performed by the monks, 
and where the knotted lash, the spiked girdle, and the hair shirt 
had once hung; while the abbot was conveyed to his old chamber, 
which had been prepared for his reception, and there left alone. 



CHAPTER V. THE MIDNIGHT MASS. 

DOLEFULLY sounds the All Souls' bell from the tower of the 
convent church. The bell is one of five, and has obtained the 
name because it is tolled only for those about to pass away from 
life. Now it rings the knell of three souls to depart on the morrow. 
Brightly illumined is the fane, within which no taper hath gleamed 
since the old worship ceased, showing that preparations are made 
for the last service. The organ, dumb so long, breathes a low 
prelude. Sad is it to hear that knell sad to view those gloriously- 
dyed panes and to think why the one rings and the other is lighted 
up. 

Word having gone forth of the midnight mass, all the ejected 
brethren flock to the abbey. Some have toiled through miry 
and scarce passable roads. Others have come down from the hills, 
and forded deep streams at the hazard of life, rather than go 
round by the far-off bridge, and arrive too late. Others, who 
conceive themselves in peril from the share they have taken in the 
late insurrection, quit their secure retreats, and expose themselves 
to capture. It may be a snare laid for them, but they run the 
risk. Others, coming from a yet greater distance, beholding the 
illuminated church from afar, and catching the sound of the bell 
tolling at intervals, hurry on, and reach the gate breathless and 
weUnigh exhausted. But 110 questions are asked. All who pre 
sent themselves in ecclesiastical habits are permitted to enter, and 
take part in the procession forming in the cloister, or proceed at 
onoe to the church, if they prefer it. 

Dolefully sounds the bell. Barefooted brethren meet together, 
sorrowfully salute each other, and form in a long line in the great 
area of the cloisters. At their head are six monks bearing tall 



THE MIDNIGHT MASS. 33 

lighted candles. After them come the quiristers, and then one 
carrying the Host, between the incense-bearers. Next comes a 
youth holding the bell. Next are placed the dignitaries of the 
church, the prior ranking first, and the others standing two and 
two, according to their degrees. Near the entrance of the refec 
tory, which occupies the whole south side of the quadrangle, stand 
a band of halberdiers, whose torches cast a ruddy glare on the 
opposite tower and buttresses of the convent church, revealing 
the statues not yet plucked from their niches, the crosses on the 
pinnacles, and the gilt image of Saint Gregory de Northbury, 
still holding its place over the porch. Another band are stationed 
near the mouth of the vaulted passage, under the chapter-house 
and vestry, whose grey, irregular walls, pierced by numberless 
richly ornamented windows, and surmounted by small turrets, 
form a beautiful boundary on the right ; while a third party are 
planted on the left, in the open space, beneath the dormitory, the 
torchlight flashing ruddily upon the hoary pillars and groined 
arches sustaining the vast structure above them. 

Dolefully sounds the bell. And the ghostly procession thrice 
tracks the four ambulatories of the cloisters, solemnly chanting a 
requiem for the dead. 

Dolefully sounds the bell. And at its summons all the old re 
tainers of the abbot press to the gate, and sue for admittance, but 
in vain. They, therefore, mount the neighbouring hill command 
ing the abbey, and as the solemn sounds float faintly by, and 
glimpses are caught of the white-robed brethren gliding along 
the cloisters, and rendered phantom-like by the torchlight, the 
beholders half imagine it must be a company of sprites, and that 
the departed monks have been permitted for an hour to assume 
their old forms, and revisit their old haunts. 

Dolefully sounds the bell. And two biers, covered with palls, 
are borne slowly towards the church, followed by a tall monk. 

The clock was on the stroke of twelve. The procession 
having drawn up within the court in front of the abbot's lodging, 
the prisoners were brought forth, and at sight of the abbot the 
whole of the monks fell on their knees. A touching sight was it 
to see those reverend men prostrate before their ancient superior, 
he condemned to die, and they deprived of their monastic home, 
and the officer had not the heart to interfere. Deeply affected, 
Paslew advanced to the prior, and raising him, affectionately 
embraced him. After this, he addressed some words of comfort 
to the others, who arose as he enjoined them, and at a signal from 
the officer, the procession set out for the church, singing the 
" Placebo." The abbot and his fellow captives brought up the 
rear, with a guard on either side of them. All Souls' bell tolled 
dolefully the while. 

Meanwhile an officer entered the great hall, where the Earl of 
Derby was feasting with his retainers, and informed him that the 

D 



34 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

hour appointed for the ceremonial was close at hand. The earl 
arose and went to the church attended by Braddyll and Assheton. 
He entered by the western porch, and, proceeding to the choir, 
seated himself in the magnificently-carved stall formerly used by 
Paslew, and placed where it stood, a hundred years before, by 
John Eccles, ninth abbot. 

Midnight struck. The great door of the church swung open, 
and the organ pealed forth the " De profundis? The aisles were 
filled with armed men, but a clear space was left for the proces 
sion, which presently entered in the same order as before, and 
moved slowly along the transept. Those who came first thought 
it a dream, so strange was it to find themselves once again in the 
old accustomed church. The good prior melted into tears. 

At length the abbot came. To him the whole scene appeared 
like a vision. The lights streaming from the altar the incense 
loading the air the deep diapasons rolling overhead the well- 
known faces of the brethren the familiar aspect of the sacred 
edifice all these filled him with emotions too painful almost for 
endurance. It was the last time he should visit this holy place 
the last time he should hear those solemn sounds the last time 
he should behold those familiar objects ay, the last! Death 
could have no pang like this ! And with heart wellnigh bursting, 
and limbs scarcely serving their office, he tottered on. 

Another trial awaited him, and one for which he was wholly 
unprepared. As he drew near the chancel, he looked down an 
opening on the right, which seemed purposely preserved by the 
guard. Why were those tapers burning in the side chapel I 
What was within it ? He looked again, and beheld two unco 
vered biers. On one lay the body of a woman. He started. In 
the beautiful, but fierce features of the dead, he beheld the witch, 
Bess Demdike. She was gone to her account before him. The 
malediction he had pronounced upon her child had killed her. 

Appalled, he turned to the other bier, and recognised Cuthbert 
Ashbead. He shuddered, but comforted himself that he was at 
least guiltless of his death ; though he had a strange feeling that 
the poor forester had in some way perished for him. 

But his attention was diverted towards a taU monk in the Cis- 
tertian habit, standing between the bodies, with the cowl drawn 
over his face. As Paslew gazed at him, the monk slowly raised 
his hood, and partially disclosed features that smote the abbot as 
if he had beheld a spectre. Could it be ? Could fancy cheat 
him thus ? He looked again. The monk was still standing there, 
but the cowl had dropped over his face. Striving to shake off the 
horror that possessed him, the abbot staggered forward, and 
reaching the presbytery, sank upon his knees. 

The ceremonial then commenced. The solemn requiem was 
eung by the choir ; and three yet living heard the hymn for the 
repose of their souls. Always deeply impressive, the service was 



THE MIDNIGHT MASS. 35 

unusually so on this sad occasion, and the melodious voices of the 
singers never sounded so mournfully sweet as then the demean 
our of the prior never seemed so dignified, nor his accents so 
touching and solemn. The sternest hearts were softened. 

But the abbot found it impossible to fix his attention on the 
service. The lights at the altar burnt dimly in his eyes the 
loud antiphon and the supplicatory prayer fell upon a listless ear. 
His whole life was passing in review before him. He saw himself 
as he was when he first professed his faith, and felt the zeal and 
holy aspirations that filled him then. Years flew by at a glance, 
and he found himself sub-deacon ; the sub-deacon became deacon; 
and the deacon, sub-prior, and the end of his ambition seemed 
plain before him. But he had a rival ; his fears told him a su 
perior in zeal and learning : one who, though many years younger 
than he, had risen so rapidly in favour with the ecclesiastical 
authorities, that he threatened to outstrip him, even now, when 
the goal was full in view. The darkest passage of his life 
approached : a crime which should cast a deep shadow over the 
whole of his brilliant after-career. He would have shunned its 
contemplation, if he could. In vain. It stood out more palpably 
than all the rest. His rival was no longer in his path. How he 
was removed the abbot did not dare to think. But he was gone 
for ever, unless the tall monk were he ! 

Unable to endure this terrible retrospect, Paslew strove to bend 
his thoughts on other things. The choir was singing the rt Dies 
Irce" and their voices thundered forth : 

Rex tremendse majestatis, 
Qui salvandos salvas gratis, 
Salva me, fons pietatis ! 

Fain would the abbot have closed his ears, and, hoping to stifle 
the remorseful pangs that seized upon his very vitals with the 
sharpness of serpents' teeth, he strove to dwell upon the frequent 
and severe acts of penance he had performed. But he now found 
that his penitence had never been sincere and efficacious. This 
one damning sin obscured all his good actions ; and he felt if he 
died unconfessed, and with the weight of guilt upon his soul, he 
should perish everlastingly. Again he fled from the torment of 
retrospection, and again heard the choir thundering forth 

Lacrymosa dies ilia, 
Qua resurget ex favilla 
Judicandus homo reus. 
Huic ergo parce, Deus! 
Pie Jesu Domine! 
Dona eis requiem. 

" Amen !" exclaimed the abbot. And bowing his head to the 
ground, he earnestly repeated 



36 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Pie Jesu Domine! 
Dona eis requiem." 

Then he looked up, and resolved to ask for a confessor, and 
unburthen his soul without delay. 

The offertory and post-communion were over ; the te requiescant 
in pace" swful words addressed to living ears were pronounced ; 
and the mass was ended. 

Ail prepared to depart. The prior descended from the altar 
to embrace and take leave of the abbot ; and at the same time 
the Earl of Derby came from the stall. 

"Has all been done to your satisfaction, John Paslew?" 
Semanded the earl, as he drew near. 

"All, my good lord," replied the abbot, lowly inclining hit 
nead ; " and I pray you think me not importunate, if I prefer one 
other request. I would fain have a confessor visit me, that I may 
lay bare my inmost heart to him, and receive absolution." 

66 1 have already anticipated the request," replied the earl," 
t( and have provided a priest for you. He shall attend you, 
within an hour, in your own chamber. You will have ample 
time between this and daybreak, to settle your accounts with 
Heaven, should they be ever so weighty." 

" I trust so, my lord," replied Paslew ; " but a whole life is 
scarcely long enough for repentance, much less a few short hours. 
But in regard to the confessor," he continued, filled with misgiving 
by the earl's manner, " I should be glad to be shriven by Father 
Christopher Smith, late prior of the abbey." 

"It may not be," replied the earl, sternly and decidedly. 
" You will find all you can require in him I shall send." 

The abbot sighed, seeing that remonstrance was useless. 

" One further question I would address to you, my lord," he 
said, " and that refers to the place of my interment. Beneath 
our feet lie buried all my predecessors -Abbots of Whalley. 
Here lies John Eccles, for whom was carved the stall in which 
your lordship hath sat, and from which I have been dethroned. 
Here rests the learned John Lyndelay, fifth abbot ; and beside 
him his immediate predecessor, Robert de Topcliffe, who, two 
hundred and thirty years ago, on the festival of Saint Gregory, 
our canonised abbot, commenced the erection of the sacred 
edifice above us. At that epoch were here enshrined the remains 
of the saintly Gregory, and here were also brought the bodies of 
Hellas de Workesley and John de Belfield, both prelates of piety 
and wisdom. You may read the names where you stand, my 
lord. You may count the graves of all the abbots. They are 
sixteen in number. There is one grave yet unoccupied one 
stone yet unfurnished with an effigy in brass." 

* Well r said the Earl of Derby. 

* When I sat in that stall, my lord," pursued Paslew, pointing 



TETER ET FORTIS CARCER. 37 

to the abbot's chair ; " when I was head of this church, it was my 
thought to rest here among my brother abbots." 

" You have forfeited the right," replied the earl, sternly. " All 
the abbots, whose dust is crumbling beneath us, died in the odour 
of sanctity ; loyal to their sovereigns, and true to their country," 
whereas you will die an attainted felon and rebel. You can have 
no place amongst them. Concern not yourself further in the 
matter. I will find a fitting grave for you, perchance at the 
foot of the gallows." 

And, turning abruptly away, he gave the signal for general 
departure. 

Ere the clock in the church tower had tolled one, the lights 
were extinguished, and of the priestly train who had recently 
thronged the fane, all were gone, like a troop of ghosts evoked sit 
midnight by necromantic skill, and then suddenly dismissed. 
Deep silence again brooded in the aisles ; hushed was the organ ; 
mute the melodious choir. The only light penetrating the 
convent church proceeded from the moon, whose rays, shining 
through the painted windows, fell upon the graves of the old 
abbots in the presbytery, and on the two biers within the 
adjoining chapel, whose stark burthens they quickened into 
fearful semblance of life. 



CHAPTER VI. TETER ET FORTIS CARCER 

LEFT alone, and unable to pray, the abbot strove to dissipate 
his agitation of spirit by walking to and fro within his chamber ; 
and while thus occupied, he was interrupted by a guard, who 
told him that the priest sent by the Earl of Derby was without, 
and immediately afterwards the confessor was ushered in. It was 
the tall monk, who had been standing between the biers, and his 
features were still shrouded by his cowl. At sight of him, Paslew 
sank upon a seat and buried his face in his hands. The monk 
offered him no consolation, but waited in silence till he should 
again look up. At last Paslew took courage and spoke. 

" Who, and what are you ? " he demanded. 

(t A brother of the same order as yourself," replied tLe monk, 
in deep and thrilling accents, but without raising his hood ; " and 
I am come to hear your confession by command of the Earl 
of Derby." 

"Are you of this abbey?" asked Paslew, tremblingly. 

" I was," replied the monk, in a stern tone ; " but the monas 
tery is dissolved, and all the brethren ejected." 

" Your name 1 " cried Paslew. 

" I am not come here to answer questions, but to hear a 
confession," rejoined the monk. "Bethink you of the awful 



38 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

situation in which you are placed, and that before many hours 
you must answer for the sins you have committed. You have 
yet time for repentance, if you delay it not." 

" You are right, father," replied the abbot. " Be seated, I pray 
you, and listen to me, for I have much to tell. Thirty and one 
years ago I was prior of this abbey. Up to that period my life 
had been blameless, or, if not wholly free from fault, I had little 
wherewith to reproach myself little to fear from a merciful judge 
unless it were that I indulged too strongly the desire of ruling 
absolutely in the house in which I was then only second. But 
Satan had laid a snare for me, into which I blindly fell. Among 
the brethren was one named Borlace Alvetham, a young man of 
rare attainment, and singular skill in the occult sciences. He 
had risen in favour, and at the time I speak of was elected sub- 
prior." 

fi Go on," said the monk. 

" It began to be whispered about within the abbey," pursued 
Paslew, " that on the death of William Rede, then abbot, Borlace 
Alvetham would succeed him, and then it was that bitter feelings 
of animosity were awakened in my breast against the sub-prior, 
and, after many struggles, I resolved upon his destruction." 

" A wicked resolution," cried the monk ; " but proceed." 

a l pondered over the means of accomplishing my purpose," 
resumed Paslew, (C and at last decided upon accusing Alvetham 
of sorcery and magical practices. The accusation was easy, for 
the occult studies in which he indulged laid him open to the 
charge. He occupied a chamber overlooking the Calder, and 
used to break the monastic rules by wandering forth at night 
upon the hills When he was absent thus one night, accompanied 
by others of the brethren, I visited his chamber, and examined 
his papers, some of which were covered with mystical figures and 
cabalistic characters. These papers I seized, and a watch was 
set to make prisoner of Alvetham on his return. Before dawn he 
appeared, and was instantly secured, and placed in close confine 
ment. On the next day he was brought before the assembled 
conclave in the chapter-house, and examined. His defence was 
unavailing. I charged him with the terrible crime of witchcraft, 
and he was found guilty." 

A hollow groan broke from the monk, but he offered no other 
interruption. 

" He was condemned to die a fearful and lingering death," 
pursued the abbot ; " and it devolved upon me to see the sentence 
carried out." 

" And no pity for the innocent moved you ? " cried the monk. 
" You had no compunction ? " 

"None," replied the abbot; u I rather rejoiced in the successful 
accomplishment of my scheme. The prey was fairly in my toils, 
and I would give him no chance of escape. Not to bring scandal 



TETER ET FORTIS CARCER. 30 

upon the abbey, it was decided that Alvetham's punishment 
should be secret." 

" A wise resolve," observed the monk. 

" Within the thickness of the dormitory walls is contrived a 
small, singularly-formed dungeon," continued the abbot. " It 
consists of an arched cell, just large enough to hold the body of a 
captive, and permit him to stretch himself upon a straw pallet. 
A narrow staircase mounts upwards to a grated aperture in one 
of the buttresses to admit air and light. Other opening is there 
none. * Teter et forlis career 1 is this dungeon styled in our 
monastic rolls, and it is well described, for it is black and strong 
enough. Food is admitted to the miserable inmate of the cell by 
means of a revolving stone, but no interchange of speech can be 
held with those without. A large stone is removed from the 
wall to admit the prisoner, and once immured, the masonry is 
mortised, and made solid as before. The wretched captive does 
not long survive his doom, or it may be he lives too long, for 
death must be a release from such protracted misery. In this 
dark cell one of the evil-minded brethren, who essayed to stab the 
Abbot of Kirkstall in the chapter-house, was thrust, and ere a 
year was over, the provisions were untouched and the man being 
known to be dead, they were stayed. His skeleton was found 
within the cell when it was opened to admit Borlace Alvetham." 

"Poor captive!" groaned the monk. 

" Ay, poor captive ! " echoed Paslew. l( Mine eyes have often 
striven to pierce those stone walls, and see him lying there in 
that narrow chamber, or forcing his way upwards, to catch a 
glimpse of the blue sky above him. When I have seen the 
swallows settle on the old buttress, or the thin grass growing 
between the stones waving there, I have thought of him." 

" Go on," said the monk. 

" I scarce can proceed," rejoined Paslew. " Little time was 
allowed Alvetham for preparation. That very night the fearful 
sentence was carried out. The stone was removed, and a new 
pallet placed in the cell. At midnight the prisoner was brought 
to the dormitory, the brethren chanting a doleful hymn. There 
he stood amidst them, his tall form towering above the rest, and 
his features pale as death. He protested his innocence, but he 
exhibited no fear, even when he saw the terrible preparations. 
When all was ready he was led to the breach. At that awful 
moment, his eye met mine, and I shall never forget the look. I 
might have saved him if I had spoken, but I would not speak. 
I turned away, and he was thrust into the breach. A fearful cry 
then rang in my ears, but it was instantly drowned by the mallets 
of the masons employed to fasten up the stone." 

There was a pause for a few moments, broken only by the sobs 
of the abbot. At length, the monk spoke. 



40 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

"And the prisoner perished in the cell?" he demanded in a 
hollow voice. 

" I thought so till to-night," replied the abbot. " But if he 
escaped it, it must have been by miracle ; or by aid of those powers 
with whom he was charged with holding commerce." 

st He did escape!" thundered the monk, throwing back his 
hood. "Look up, John Paslew. Look up, false abbot, and 
recognise thy victim." x 

t( Borlace Alvetham !" cried the abbot. " Is it, indeed, you ?" 

"You see, and can you doubt?" replied the other. "But 
you shall now hear how I avoided the terrible death to which 
you procured my condemnation. You shall now learn how I 
am here to repay the wrong you did me. We have changed 
places, John Paslew, since the night when I was thrust into the 
cell, never, as you hoped, to come forth. You are now the 
criminal, and I the witness of the punishment." 

" Forgive me ! oh, forgive me ! Borlace Alvetham, since you 
are, indeed, he!" cried the abbot, falling on his knees. 

"Arise, John Paslew!" cried the other, sternly. "Arise, and 
listen to me. For the damning offences into which I have been 
led, I hold you responsible. But for you I might have died free 
from sin. It is fit you should know the amount of my iniquity. 
Give ear to me, I say. When first shut within that dungeon, I 
yielded to the promptings of despair. Cursing you, I threw my 
self upon the paUet, resolved to taste no food, and hoping death 
would soon release me. But love of life prevailed. On the 
second day I took the bread and water allotted me, and ate and 
drank ; after which I scaled the narrow staircase, and gazed 
through the thin barred loophole at the bright blue sky above, 
sometimes catching the shadow of a bird as it flew past. Oh, 
how I yearned for freedom then ! Oh, how I wished to break 
through the stone walls that held me fast ! Oh, what a weight of 
despair crushed my heart as I crept back to my narrow bed ! 
The cell seemed like a grave, and indeed it was little better. 
Horrible thoughts possessed me. What if I should be wilfully 
forgotten? What if no food should be given me, and I should 
be left to perish by the slow pangs of hunger? At this idea I 
shrieked aloud, but the walls alone returned a dull echo to my 
cries. I beat my hands against the stones, till the blood flowed 
from them, but no answer was returned ; and at last I desisted 
from sheer exhaustion. Day after day, and night after night, 
passed in this way. My food regularly came. But I became 
maddened by solitude ; and with terrible imprecations invoked 
aid from the powers of darkness to set me free. One night, 
while thus employed, I was startled by a mocking voice which 
said, 

" ' All this fury is needless. Thou hast only to wish for me, 
and I corns/ 




ALVETHAM AND JOHN PASLEW. 



P. 4 0. 



^ 



TETER ET FORTIS CARCER. 41 

u It was profoundly dark. I could see nothing but a pair of 
red orbs, glowing like flaming carbuncles. 

" ( Thou wouldst be free,' continued the voice. t Thou shalt be 
so. Arise, and follow me.' 

" At this I felt myself grasped by an iron arm, against which 
all resistance would have been unavailing, even if I had dared to 
offer it, and in an instant I was dragged up the narrow steps. 
The stone wall opened before my unseen conductor, and in 
another moment we were upon the roof of the dormitory. By 
the bright starbeams shooting down from above, I discerned a 
tall shadowy figure standing by my side. 

66 ' Thou art mine,' he cried, in accents graven for ever on my 
memory; 6 but I am a generous master, and will give thee a long 
term of freedom. Thou shalt be avenged upon thine enemy 
deeply avenged.' 

" ( Grant this, and I am thine,' I replied, a spirit of infernal 
vengeance possessing me. And I knelt before the fiend. 

" ' But thou must tarry for awhile,' he answered, < for thine 
enemy's time will be long in coming ; but it will come. I cannot 
work him immediate harm ; but I wih 1 lead him to a height from 
which he will assuredly fall headlong. Thou must depart from 
this place ; for it is perilous to thee, and if thou stayest here, ill 
will befall thee. I wih 1 send a rat to thy dungeon, which shall 
daily devour the provisions, so that the monks shall not know 
thou hast fled. In thirty and one years shall the abbot's doom be 
accomplished. Two years before that time thou mayst return. 
Then come alone to Pendle Hill on a Friday night, and beat the 
water of the moss pool on the summit, and I will appear to thee 
and tell thee more. Nine and twenty years, remember ! ' 

" With these words the shadowy figure melted away, and I 
found myself standing alone on the mossy roof of the dormitory. 
The cold stars were shining down upon me, and I heard the 
howl of the watch-dogs near the gate. The fair abbey slept in 
beauty around me, and I gnashed my teeth with rage to think 
that you had made me an outcast from it, and robbed me of a 
dignity which might have been mine. I was wroth also that my 
vengeance should be so long delayed. But I could not remain 
where I was, so I clambered down the buttress, and fled away." 

i( Can this be?" cried the abbot, who had listened in rapt won 
derment to the narration. " Two years after your immurement 
in the cell, the food having been for some time untouched, the 
wall was opened, and upon the pallet was found a decayed carcase 
in mouldering, monkish vestments." 

u It was a body taken from the charnel, and placed there by 
the demon," replied the monk. " Of my long wanderings in 
other lands and beneath brighter skies I need not tell you ; but 
neither absence nor lapse of years cooled my desire of vengeance, 
and when the appointed time drew nigh I returned to my own 



42 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

country, and came hither in a lowly garb, under the name of 
Nicholas Demdike." 

" Ha !" exclaimed the abbot. 

" I went to Pendle Hill, as directed," pursued the monk, " and 
saw the Dark Shape there as I beheld it on the dormitory roof. 
All things were then told me, and I learnt how the late rebellion 
should rise, and how it should be crushed. I learnt also how my 
vengeance should be satisfied." 

Paslew groaned aloud. A brief pause ensued, and deep emotion 
marked the accents of the wizard as he proceeded. 

u When I came back, all this part of Lancashire resounded 
with praises of the beauty of Bess Blackburn, a rustic lass who 
dwelt in Barrowford. She was called the Flower of Pendle, and 
inflamed all the youths with love, and all the maidens with 
jealousy. But she favoured none except Cuthbert Ashbead, 
forester to the Abbot of Whalley. Her mother would fain have 
given her to the forester in marriage, but Bess would not be 
disposed of so easily. I saw her, and became at once enamoured. 
I thought my heart was seared ; but it was not so. The savage 
beauty of Bess pleased me more than the most refined charms 
could have done, and her fierce character harmonised with my 
own. How I won her matters not, but she cast off all thoughts 
of Ashbead, and clung to me. My wild life suited her ; and she 
roamed the wastes with me, scaled the hills in my company, and 
shrank not from the weird meetings I attended. Ill repute 
quickly attended her, and she became branded as a witch. Her 
aged mother closed her doors upon her, and those who would 
have gone miles to meet her, now avoided her. Bess heeded this 
little. She was of a nature to repay the world's contumely with 
like scorn, but when her child was born the case became different. 
She wished to save it. Then it was," pursued Demdike, vehe 
mently, and regarding the abbot with flashing eyes " then it was 
that I was again mortally injured by you. Then your ruthless 
decree to the clergy went forth. My child was denied baptism, 
and became subject to the fiend." 

et Alas ! alas ! " exclaimed Paslew. 

(i And as if this were not injury enough," thundered Demdike, 
"you have called down a withering and lasting curse upon its 
innocent head, and through it transfixed its mother's heart. If 
you had complied with that poor girl's request, I would have 
forgiven you your wrong to me, and have saved you." 

There was a long, fearful silence. At last Demdike advanced 
to the abbot, and, seizing his arm, fixed his eyes upon him, as if 
to search into his soul. 

" Answer me, John Paslew!" he cried; "answer me, as you 
shall speedily answer your Maker. Can that malediction be re 
called? Dare not to trifle with me, or I will tear forth your black 
heart, and cast it in your face. Can that curse be recalled? Speak !" 



THE ABBEY MILL. 43 

" It cannot," replied the abbot, half dead with terror. 

"Away, then!" thundered Demdike, casting him from him. 
" To the gallows ! to the gallows !" And he rushed out of the 
room. 



CHAPTER VII. THE ABBEY MILL. 

FOR a while the abbot remained shattered and stupefied by 
this terrible interview. At length he arose, and made his way, 
he scarce knew how, to the oratory. But it was long before the 
tumult of his thoughts could be at all allayed, and he had only 
just regained something like composure when he was disturbed 
by hearing a slight sound in the adjoining chamber. A mortal 
chill came over him, for he thought it might be Demdike 
returned. Presently, he distinguished a footstep stealthily 
approaching him, and almost hoped that the wizard would con 
summate his vengeance by taking his life. But he was quickly 
undeceived, for a hand was placed on his shoulder, and a friendly 
voice whispered in his ears, " Cum along wi' meh, lort abbut. 
Get up, quick quick!" 

Thus addressed, the abbot raised his eyes, and beheld a rustic 
figure standing beside him, divested of his clouted shoes, and 
armed with a long bare wood-knife. 

" Dunna yo knoa me, lort abbut?" cried the person. " Ey'm 
a freent Hal o' Nabs, o' Wiswall. Yo'n moind Wiswall, yeawr 
own birthplace, abbut ? Dunna be feert, ey sey. Ey'n getten a 
steigh clapt to yon windaw, an' you con be down it i' a trice 
an' along t' covert way be t' river soide to t' mill." 

But the abbot stirred not. 

"Quick! quick!" implored Hal o' Nabs, venturing to pluck 
the abbot's sleeve. " Every minute's precious. Dunna be feert. 
Ebil Croft, t' miller, is be^ow. Poor Cuthbert Ashbead would ha' 
been here i'stead o' meh if he couldn ; boh that accursed wizard, 
Nick Demdike, turned my hont agen him, an' drove t' poike head 
intended for himself into poor Cuthbert's side. They clapt meh 
i' a dungeon, boh Ebil monaged to get me out, an' ey then swore 
to do whot poor Cuthbert would ha' done, if he'd been livin' 
so here ey am, lort abbut, cum to set yo free. An' neaw yo 
knoan aw abowt it, yo con ha nah more hesitation. Cum, time 
presses, an ey'm feert o' t' guard owerhearing us." 

" I thank you, my good friend, from the bottom of my heart," 
replied the abbot, rising ; " but, however strong may be the 
temptation of life and liberty which you hold out to me, I cannot 
yield to it. I have pledged my word to the Earl of Derby to 
make no attempt to escape. Were the doors thrown open, and 
the guard removed, I should remain where I am." 



4 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

u Whot!" exclaimed Hal o' Nabs, in a tone of bitter disap 
pointment ; " yo winnaw go, neaw aw's prepared. By th' Mess^ 
ooh yo shan. Ey'st nah go back to Ebil empty-handed. If yo'E 
sworn to stay here, ey'n sworn to set yo free, and ey'st keep meh 
oath. Willy nilly, yo shan go wi' meh, lort abbut !" 

" Forbear to urge me further, my good Hal," rejoined Paslew. 
" I fully appreciate your devotion ; and I only regret that you and 
Abel Croft have exposed yourselves to so much peril on my ac 
count. Poor Cuthbert Ashbead ! when I beheld his body on the 
bier, I had a sad feeling that he had died in my behalf." 

" Cuthbert meant to rescue yo, lort abbut," replied Hal, " and 
deed resisting Nick Demdike's attempt to arrest him. Boh, be 
aw t' devils!" he added, brandishing his knife fiercely, "t' warlock 
shall ha' three inches o' cowd steel betwixt his ribs, t' furst time 
ey cum across him." 

u Peace, my son," rejoined the abbot, "and forego your bloody 
design. Leave the wretched man to the chastisement of Heaven. 
And now, farewell ! All your kindly efforts to induce me to fly 
are vain." 

" Yo winnaw go?" cried Hal o'Nabs, scratching his head. 

" I cannot," replied the abbot. 

" Cum wi' meh to t' windaw, then," pursued Hal, "and tell Ebil 
so. He'll think ey'n failed else." 

Willingly," replied the abbot. 

And with noiseless footsteps he followed the other across the 
chamber. The window was open, and outside it was reared a 
ladder. 

" Yo mun go down a few steps," said Hal o' Nabs, " or else he'll 
nah hear yo." 

The abbot complied, and partly descended the ladder. 

" I see no one," he said. 

" T' neet's dark," replied Hal o' Nabs, who was close behind him. 
t( Ebil canna be far off. Hist ! ey hear him go on." 

The abbot was now obliged to comply, though he did so with 
reluctance. Presently he found himself upon the roof of a building, 
which he knew to be connected with the mill by a covered passage 
running along the south bank of the Calder. Scarcely had he set 
foot there, than Hal o' Nabs jumped after him, and, seizing the 
ladder, cast it into the stream, thus rendering Paslew's return im 
possible. 

" Neaw, lort abbut," he cried, with a low, exulting laugh, " yo 
hanna brok'n yor word, an ey'n kept moine. Yo're free agen your 
will." 

" You have destroyed me by your mistaken zeal," cri$d the abbot, 
reproachfully. 

" Nowt o't sort," replied Hal ; " ey'n saved yo' fro* destruction. 
This way, lort abbut this way." 

And taking Paslew's arm he led him to a low parapet, over 



THE ABBEY MILL. 45 

looking the covered passage before described. Half an hour before 
it had been bright moonlight, but, as if to favour the fugitive, 
the heavens had become overcast, and a thick mist had arisen 
from the river. 

" Ebil! Ebil !" cried Hal o* Nabs, leaning over the parapet. 

" Here," replied a voice below. " Is aw reet? Is he wi' yo?" 

" Yeigh," replied Hal. 

" Whot han yo dun wi' t' steigh?" cried Ebil. 

" Never yo moind," returned Hal, " boh help t' abbut down." 

Paslew thought it vain to resist further, and with the help of 
Hal o' Nabs and the miller, and further aided by some irregu 
larities in the wall, he was soon safely landed near the entrance of 
the passage. Abel fell on his knees, and pressed the abbot's hand 
to his lips. 

" Owr Blessed Leady be praised, yo are free," he cried. 

fC Dunnastond tawkinghere, Ebil," interposed Hal o'Nabs, who 
by this time had reached the ground, and who was fearful of some 
new remonstrance on the abbot's part. "Ey'm feerd o' pursuit." 

" Yo' needna be afeerd o' that, Hal," replied the miller. " T 
guard are safe enough. One o' owr chaps has just tuk em up a 
big black jack fu' o' stout ele ; an ey warrant me they winnaw stir 
yet awhoile. Win it please yo to cum wi' me, lort abbut?" 

With this, he marched along the passage, followed by the others, 
and presently arrived at a door, against which he tapped. A bolt 
being withdrawn, it was instantly opened to admit the party, after 
which it was as quickly shut, and secured. In answer to a call 
from the miller, a light appeared at the top of a steep, ladder-like 
flight of wooden steps, and up these Paslew, at the entreaty of Abel, 
mounted, and found himself in a large, low chamber, the roof of 
which was crossed by great beams, covered thickly with cobwebs, 
whitened by flour, while the floor was strewn with empty sacks 
and sieves. 

The person who held the light proved to be the miller's daughter^ 
Dorothy, a blooming lass of eighteen, and at the other end of the 
chamber, seated on a bench before a turf fire, with an infant on 
her knees, was the miller's wife. The latter instantly arose on be 
holding the abbot, and, placing the child on a corn bin, advanced 
towards him, and dropped on her knees, while her daughter imitat 
ed her example. The abbot extended his hands over them, and 
pronounced a solemn benediction. 

" Bring your child also to me, that I may bless it," he said, when 
he concluded. 

" It's nah my child, lort abbut," replied the miller's wife, taking 
up the infant and bringing it to him ; " it wur brought to me this 
varry neet by Ebil. Ey wish it wur far enough, ey'm sure, for 
it's a deformed little urchon. One o' its een is lower set than t' other ; 
an t* reet looks up, while t' laft looks down." 

And as she spoke she pointed to the infant's face, which waa 



46 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

disfigured as she had stated, by a strange and unnatural disposition 
of the eyes, one of which was set much lower in the head than the 
other. Awakened from sleep, the child uttered a feeble cry, and 
stretched out its tiny arms to Dorothy. 

" You ought to pity it for its deformity, poor little creature, 
rather than reproach it, mother," observed the young damsel. 

" Marry kem eawt ! " cried her mother, sharply, " yo'n gotten 
fine feelings wi' your larning fro t' good feythers, Dolly. Os ey 
said efore, ey wish t' brat wur far enough." 

" You forget it has no mother," suggested Dorothy, kindly. 

" An naw great matter, if it hasn't," returned the miller's wife. 
" Bess Demdike 's neaw great loss." 

" Is this Bess Demdike's child?" cried Paslew, recoiling. 

" Yeigh," exclaimed the miller's wife. And mistaking the cause 
of Paslew's emotion, she added, triumphantly, to her daughter, 
" Ey towd te, wench, ot t' lort abbut would be of my way o' 
thinking. T' chilt has got the witch's mark plain upon her. Look, 
lort abbut, look !" 

But Paslew heeded her not, but murmured to himself: 

" Ever in rny path, go where I will. It is vain to struggle with 
my fate. I will go back and surrender myself to the Earl of Derby." 

"Nah, nah! yo shanna do that," replied Hal o' Nabs, who, 
with the miller, was close beside him. " Sit down o' that stoo' be 
t' fire, and take a cup o' wine t' cheer yo, and then we'n set out to 
Pendle Forest, where ey'st find yo a safe hiding-place. An t' ony 
reward ey'n ever ask for t' sarvice shan be. that yo'n perform a 
marriage sarvice fo' me and Dolly one of these days." And he 
nudged the damsel's elbow, who turned away, covered with blushes. 

The abbot moved mechanically to the fire, and sat down, while 
the miller's wife, surrendering the child with a shrug of the shoulders 
and a grimace to her daughter, went in search of some viands and 
a flask of wine, which she set before Paslew. The miller then filled a 
drinking-horn, and presented it to his guest, who was about to raise 
it to his lips, when a loud knocking was heard at the door below. 

The knocking continued with increased violence, and voices 
were heard calling upon the miller to open the door, or it would 
be broken down. On the first alarm Abel had flown to a small 
window whence he could reconnoitre those below, and he now re 
turned with a face white with terror, to say that a party of arque- 
bussiers, with the sheriff at their head, were without, and that 
some of the men were provided with torches. 

u They have discovered my evasion, and are come in search of 
me," observed the abbot rising, but without betraying any anxiety. 
" Do not concern yourselves further for me, my good friends, but 
open the door, and deliver me to them." 

" Nah, nah, that we winnaw," cried Hal o' Nabs, "yo're neaw 
taen yet, feyther abbut, an' ey knoa a way to baffle 'em. If y'on 
let him down into t' river, Ebil, ey'n manage to get him off." 



THE ABBEY MILL. 47 

" Weel thowt on, Nab," cried the miller, " theawst nah been mey 
mon seven year fo nowt. Theaw knoas t' ways o' t' pleck." 

" Os weel os onny rotten abowt it," replied Hal o' Nabs. " Go 
down to t' grindin'-room, an ey'n follow i' a troice." 

And as Abel snatched up the light, and hastily descended the 
steps with Paslew, Hal whispered in Dorothy's ears 

"Tak care neaw one fonds that chilt, Dolly, if they break in. 
Hide it safely ; an whon they're gone, tak it to't church, and place 
it near t' altar, where no ill con cum to it or thee. Mey life may 
hong upon it." 

And as the poor girl, who, as well as her mother, was almost 
frightened out of her wits, promised compliance, he hurried down 
the steps after the others, muttering, as the clamour without was 
redoubled 

" Eigh, roar on till yo're hoarse. Yo winnaw get in yet awhile, 
ey'n promise ye." 

Meantime, the abbot had been led to the chief room of the 
mill, where ah 1 the corn formerly consumed within the monastery 
had been prepared, and which the size of the chamber itself, to 
gether with the vastness of the stones used in the operation of 
grinding, and connected with the huge water-wheel outside, proved 
to be by no means inconsiderable. Strong shafts of timber sup 
ported the flooring above, and were crossed by other boards placed 
horizontally, from which various implements in use at the mill 
depended, giving the chamber, imperfectly lighted as it now was 
by the lamp borne by Abel, a strange and almost mysterious ap 
pearance. Three or four of the miller's men, armed with pikes, 
had followed their master, and, though much alarmed, they vowed 
to die rather than give up the abbot. 

By this time Hal o' Nabs had joined the group, and proceeding 
towards a raised part of the chamber where the grinding-stones 
were set, he knelt down, and laying hold of a smaU ring, raised up 
a trapdoor. The fresh air which blew up through the aperture, 
combined with the rushing sound of water, showed that the 
Oalder flowed immediately beneath; and, having made some slight 
preparation, Hal let himself down into the stream. 

At this moment a loud crash was heard, and one ol the miller's 
men cried out that the arquebussiers had burst open the door. 

" Be hondy, then, lads, and let him down ! " cried Hal o' Nabs, 
who had some difficulty in maintaining his footing on the rough, 
stony bottom of the swift stream. 

Passively yielding, the abbot suffered the miller and one of the 
stoutest of his men to assist him through the trapdoor, while a third 
held down the lamp, and showed Hal o' Nabs, up to his middle in 
the darkling current, and stretching out his arms to receive the 
burden. The light fell upon the huge black circle of the water- 
wheel now stopped, and upon the dripping arches supporting the 



48 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

mill. In another moment the abbot plunged into the water, the 
trapdoor was replaced, and bolted underneath by Hal, who, while 
guiding his companion along, and bidding him catch hold of the 
wood-work of the wheel, heard a heavy trampling of many feet 
on the boards above, showing that the pursuers had obtained 
admittance. 

Encumbered by his heavy vestments, the abbot could with 
difficulty contend against the strong current, and he momently 
expected to be swept away ; but he had a stout and active 
assistant by his side, who soon placed him under shelter of the 
wheel. The trampling overhead continued for a few minutes, 
after which all was quiet, and Hal judged that, finding their search 
within ineffectual, the enemy would speedily come forth. Nor 
was he deceived. Shouts were soon heard at the door of the 
mill, and the glare of torches was cast on the stream. Then it 
was that Hal dragged his companion into a deep hole, formed by 
some decay in the masonry, behind the wheel, where the water 
rose nearly to their chins, and where they were completely con 
cealed. Scarcely were they thus ensconced, than two or three 
armed men, holding torches aloft, were seen wading under the 
archway; but after looking carefully around, and even approaching 
close to the water-wheel, these persons could detect nothing, and 
withdrew, muttering curses of rage and disappointment. By-and- 
by the lights almost wholly disappeared, and the shouts becoming 
fainter and more distant, it was evident that the men had gone 
lower down the river. Upon this, Hal thought they might 
venture to quit their retreat, and accordingly, grasping the abbot's 
arm, he proceeded to wade up the stream. 

Benumbed with cold, and half dead with terror, Paslew needed 
all his companion's support, for he could do little to help himself, 
added to which, they occasionally encountered some large stone, 
or stepped into a deep hole, so that it required Hal's utmost 
exertion and strength to force a way on. At last they were out 
of the arch, and though both banks seemed unguarded, yet, for 
fear of surprise, Hal deemed it prudent still to keep to the river. 
Their course was completely sheltered from observation by the 
mist that enveloped them ; and after proceeding in this way for 
some distance, Hal stopped to listen, and while debating with 
himself whether he should now quit the river, he fancied he beheld 
a black object swimming towards him. Taking it for an otter, 
with which voracious animal the Calder, a stream swarming with 
trout, abounded, and knowing the creature would not meddle 
with them unless first attacked, he paid little attention to it ; but 
he was soon made sensible of his error. His arm was suddenly 
seized by a large black hound, whose sharp fangs met in his flesh. 
Unable to repress a cry of pain, Hal strove to disengage himself 
from his assailant, and, finding it impossible, flung himself into the 



THE ABBEY MILL. 49 

water, in the hope of drowning him, but, as the hound still main 
tained his hold, he searched for his knife to slay him. But he 
could not find it, and in his distress applied to Paslew. 

" Ha yo onny weepun abowt yo, lort abbut," he cried, " wi* 
which ey con free mysel fro' this accussed hound?" 

" Alas ! no, my son," replied Paslew, " and I fear no weapon 
will prevail against it, for I recognise in the animal the hound of 
the wizard, Demdike." 

"Ey thowt t' dule wur in it," rejoined Hal; "boh leave me to 
fight it owt, an do you gain t' bonk, an mey t' best o' your way to 
t' Wiswall. Ey'n join ye os soon os ey con scrush this varment's 
heaodagen a stoan. Ha!" he added, joyfully, "Ey'n found t' 
thwittle. Go go. Ey'n soon be efter ye." 

Feeling he should sink if he remained where he was, and wholly 
unable to offer any effectual assistance to his companion, the abbot 
turned to the left, where a large oak overhung the stream, and he 
was climbing the bank, aided by the roots of the tree, when a man 
suddenly came from behind it, seized his hand, and dragged him 
up forcibly. At the same moment his captor placed a bugle to his 
lips, and winding a few notes, he was instantly answered by shouts, 
and soon afterwards half a dozen armed men ran up, bearing 
torches. Not a word passed between the fugitive and his captor ; 
but when the men came up, and the torchlight fell upon the fea 
tures of the latter, the abbot's worst fears were realised. It was 
Demdike. 

" False to your king ! false to your oath ! false to all men !" 
cried the wizard. " You seek to escape in vain !" 

" I merit all your reproaches," replied the abbot ; u but it may 
be some satisfaction to you to learn, that I have endured far greater 
suffering than if I had patiently awaited my doom." 

"I am glad of it," rejoined Demdike, with a savage laugh; 
tf but you have destroyed others beside yourself. Where is the 
fellow in the water? What, ho, Uriel !" 

But as no sound reached him, he snatched a torch from one of 
the arquebussiers and held it to the river's brink. But he could 
see neither hound nor man. 

"Strange!' he cried. " He cannot have escaped. Uriel is 
more than a match for any man. Secure the prisoner while I ex 
amine the stream." 

With this, he ran along the bank with great quickness, holding 
his torch far over the water, so as to reveal any thing floating 
within it, but nothing met his view until he came within a short 
distance of the mill, when he beheld a black object struggling in 
the current, and soon found that it was his dog making feeble 
efforts to gain the bank. 

" Ah recreant ! thou hast let him go," cried Demdike, furiously. 
Seeing his master the animal redoubled its efforts, crept ashore, 
and fell at his feet, with a last effort to lick his hands. 



50 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Demdike held down the torch, and then perceived that the 
hound was quite dead. There was a deep gash in its side, and 
another in the throat, showing how it had perished. 

"Poor Uriel!" he exclaimed; "the only true friend I had. 
And thou art gone ! The villain has killed thee, but he shall pay 
for it with his life." 

And hurrying back he dispatched four of the men in quest of 
the fugitive, while accompanied by the two others he conveyed 
Paslew back to the abbey, where he was placed in a strong cell, from 
which there was no possibility of escape, and a guard set over him. 

Half an hour after this, two of the arquebussiers returned with 
Hal o' Nabs, whom they had succeeded in capturing after a 
desperate resistance, about a mile from the abbey, on the road to 
Wiswall. He was taken to the guard-room, which had been 
appointed in one of the lower chambers of the chapter-house, and 
Demdike was immediately apprised of his arrival. Satisfied by an 
inspection of the prisoner, whose demeanour was sullen and 
resolved, Demdike proceeded to the great hall, where the Earl of 
Derby, who had returned thither after the midnight mass, was still 
sitting with his retainers. An audience was readily obtained by 
the wizard, and, apparently well pleased with the result, he returned 
to the guard-room. The prisoner was seated by himself in one 
corner of the chamber, with his hands tied behind his back with a 
leathern thong, and Demdike approaching him, told him that, for 
having aided the escape of a condemned rebel and traitor, and 
violently assaulting the king's lieges in the execution of their duty, 
he would be hanged on the morrow, the Earl of Derby, who had 
power of life or death in such cases, having so decreed it. And 
he exhibited the warrant. 

"Soh, yo mean to hong me, eh, wizard?" cried Hal o' Nabs, 
kicking his heels with great apparent indifference. 

"I do," replied Demdike ; "if for nothing else, for slaying my 
hound." 

" Ey dunna think it," replied Hal. " Yo'n alter your moind. 
Do, mon Ey'm nah prepared to dee just yet." 

"Then perish in your sins," cried Demdike, "I will not give you 
an hour's respite." 

" Yo'n be sorry when it's too late," said Hal. 

" Tush!" cried Demdike, "my only regret will be that Uriel's 
slaughter is paid for by such a worthless life as thine." 

"Then whoy tak it?" demanded Hal. " 'Specially whon yo'n 
lose your chilt by doing so." 

"My child!" exclaimed Demdike, surprised. "How mean 
you, sirrah t" 

" Ey mean this," replied Hal, coolly ; " that if ey dee to-morrow 
mornin* your chilt dees too. Whon ey ondertook this job ey 
calkilated mey chances, an' tuk precautions eforehond. Your 
ohilt's a hostage fo mey safety." 



THE ABBEY MILL. 51 

"Curses on thee and thy cunning," cried Demdike; "but I 
will not be outwitted by a hind like thee. I will have the child, 
and yet not be baulked of my revenge/' 

" Yo'n never ha' it, except os a breathless corpse, 'bowt mey 
consent," rejoined Hal. 

" We shall see," cried Demdike, rushing forth, and bidding the 
guards look well to the prisoner. 

But ere long he returned with a gloomy and disappointed ex 
pression of countenance, and again approaching the prisoner said, 
" Thou hast spoken the truth. The infant is in the hands of some 
innocent being over whom I have no power." 

" Ey towdee so, wizard," replied Hal, laughing. " Hoind os 
ey be, ey'm a match fo' thee, ha ! ha ! Neaw, mey life agen t' 
chilt's. Win yo set me free ?" 

Demdike deliberated. 

" Harkee, wizard," cried Hal, " if yo're hatching treason ey'n 
dun. T" sartunty o' revenge win sweeten mey last moments." 

" Will you swear to deliver the child to me unharmed, if I set 
you free ?" asked Demdike. 

"It's a bargain, wizard," rejoined Hal o' Nabs ; "ey swear. 
Boh yo mun set me free furst, fo' ey winnaw tak your word." 

Demdike turned away disdainfully, and addressing the arque- 
bussiers, said, " You behold this warrant, guard. The prisoner 
is committed to my custody. I will produce him on the morrow, 
or account for his absence to the Earl of Derby." 

One of the arquebussiers examined the order, and vouching 
for its correctness, the others signified their assent to the arrange 
ment, upon which Demdike motioned the prisoner to follow him, 
and quitted the chamber. No interruption was offered to Hal's 
egress, but he stopped within the court-yard, where Demdike 
awaited him, and unfastened the leathern thong that bound 
together his hands. 

" Now go and bring the child to me," said the wizard. 

"Nah, ey'st neaw bring it ye myself," rejoined Hal. "Ey 
knoas better nor that. Be at t' church porch i' half an hour, an 
t' bantlin shan be delivered to ye safe an sound." 

And without waiting for a reply, he ran off with great swift 
ness. 

At the appointed time Demdike sought the church, and as he 
drew near it there issued from the porch a female, who hastily 
placing the child, wrapped in a mantle, in his arms, tarried for no 
speech from him, but instantly disappeared. Demdike, however, 
recognised in her the miller's daughter, Dorothy Croft. 



52 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 



CHAPTER VIII. -THE EXECUTIONER. 

DAWN came at last, after a long and weary night to many 
within and without the abbey. Every thing betokened a dismal 
day. The atmosphere was damp, and oppressive to the spirits, 
while the raw cold sensibly affected the frame. All astir^were 
filled with gloom and despondency, and secretly breathed a wish 
that the tragical business of the day were ended. The vast range 
of Pendle was obscured by clouds, and ere long the vapours de 
scended into the valleys, and rain began to fall; at first slightly, 
but afterwards in heavy continuous showers. Melancholy was 
the aspect of the abbey, and it required no stretch of imagi 
nation to fancy that the old structure was deploring the fate of 
its former ruler. To those impressed with the idea and many 
there were who were so the very stones of the convent church 
seemed dissolving into tears. The statues of the saints appeared 
to weep, and the great statue of Saint Gregory de Northbury 
over the porch seemed bowed down with grief. The grotesquely 
carved heads on the spouts grinned horribly at the abbot's 
destroyers, and spouted forth cascades of water, as if with the 
intent of drowning them. So deluging and incessant were the 
showers, that it seemed, indeed, as if the abbey would be flooded. 
All the inequalities of ground within the great quadrangle of the 
cloisters looked like ponds, and the various water-spouts from the 
dormitory, the refectory, and the chapter-house, continuing to 
jet forth streams into the court below, the ambulatories were 
soon filled ankle-deep, and even the lower apartments, on which 
they opened, invaded. 

Surcharged with moisture, the royal banner on the gate drooped 
and clung to the staff, as if it too shared in the general depres 
sion, or as if the sovereign authority it represented had given 
way. The countenances and deportment of the men harmonized 
with the weather ; they moved about gloomily and despondently,, 
their bright accoutrements sullied with the wet, and their buskins 
clogged with mire. A forlorn sight it was to watch the shiver 
ing sentinels on the walls ; and yet more forlorn to see the groups 
of the abbot's old retainers gathering without, wrapped in their 
blue woollen cloaks, patiently enduring the drenching showers, 
and awaiting the last awful scene. But the saddest sight of all 
was on the hill, already described, called the Holehouses. Here 
two other lesser gibbets had been erected during the night, one 
on either hand of the loftier instrument of justice, and the car 
penters were yet employed in finishing their work, having been 
delayed by the badness of the weather. Half drowned by the 
torrents that fell upon them, the poor fellows were protected from 
interference with their disagreeable occupation by half a dozen 



THE EXECUTIONER. , 53 

well-mounted and well-armed troopers, and by as many halber 
diers ; and this company, completely exposed to the weather, 
suffered severely from wet and cold. The rain beat against the 
gallows, ran down its tall naked posts, and collected in pools at 
its feet. Attracted by some strange instinct, which seemed to 
give them a knowledge of the object of these terrible prepara 
tions, two ravens wheeled screaming round the fatal tree, and at 
length one of them settled on the cross-beam, and could with 
difficulty be dislodged by the shouts of the men, when it flew 
away, croaking hoarsely. Up this gentle hill, ordinarily so soft 
and beautiful, but now abhorrent as a Golgotha, in the eyes of the 
beholders, groups of rustics and monks had climbed over ground 
rendered slippery with moisture, and had gathered round the 
paling encircling the terrible apparatus, looking the images of 
despair and woe. 

Even those within the abbey, and sheltered from the storm, 
shared the all-pervading despondency. The refectory looked dull 
and comfortless, and the logs on the hearth hissed and sputtered, 
and would not burn. Green wood had been brought instead of 
dry fuel by the drowsy henchman. The viands on the board pro 
voked not the appetite, and the men emptied their cups of ale, 
yawned and stretched their arms, as if they would fain sleep an 
hour or two longer. The sense of discomfort was heightened by 
the entrance of those whose term of watch had been relieved, and 
who cast their dripping cloaks on the floor, while two or three 
savage dogs, steaming with moisture, stretched their huge lengths 
before the sullen fire, and disputed all approach to it. 

Within the great hall were already gathered the retainers of the 
Earl of Derby, but the nobleman himself had not appeared. 
Having passed the greater part of the night in conference with 
one person or another, and the abbot's flight having caused him 
much disquietude, though he did not hear of it till the fugitive 
was recovered ; the earl would not seek his couch until within an 
hour of daybreak, and his attendants, considering the state of the 
weather, and that it yet wanted full two hours to the time 
appointed for the execution, did not think it needful to disturb 
him. Braddyll and Assheton, however, were up and ready ; but, 
despite their firmness of nerve, they yielded like the rest to the 
depressing influence of the weather, and began to have some 
misgivings as to their own share in the tragedy about to be enacted. 
The various gentlemen in attendance paced to and fro within the 
hall, holding but slight converse together, anxiously counting the 
minutes, for the time appeared to pass on with unwonted slow 
ness, and ever and anon glancing through the diamond panes of 
the window at the rain pouring down steadily without, and coming 
back again hopeless of amendment in the weather. 

If such were the disheartening influence of the day on those 
who had nothing to apprehend, what must its effect have been on 



54 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

tfie poor captives! Woful indeed. The two monks suffered a 
complete prostration of spirit. All the resolution which Father 
Haydocke had displayed in his interview with the Earl of Derby, 
failed him now, and he yielded to the agonies of despair. Father 
Eastgate was in little better condition, and gave vent to unavailing 
lamentations, instead of paying heed to the consolatory discourse 
of the monk who had been permitted to visit him. 

The abbot was better sustained. Though greatly enfeebled by 
the occurrences of the night, yet in proportion as his bodily 
strength decreased, his mental energies rallied. Since the con 
fession of his secret offence, and the conviction he had obtained 
that his supposed victim still lived, a weight seemed taken from 
his breast, and he had no longer any dread of death. Rather he 
looked to the speedy termination of existence with hopeful pleasure. 
He prepared himself as decently as the means afforded him per 
mitted for his last appearance before the world, but refused all 
refreshment except a cup of water, and being left to himself was 
praying fervently, when a man was admitted into his cell. Think 
ing it might be the executioner come to summon him, he arose, 
and to his surprise beheld Hal o' Nabs. The countenance of the 
rustic was pale, but his bearing was determined. 

"You here, my son," cried Paslew. "I hoped you had escaped." 

" Ey'm i nah dawnger, feyther abbut," replied Hal. " Ey'n 
getten leef to visit ye fo a minute only, so ey mun be brief. Mey 
yourself easy, ye shanna dee be't hongmon's honds." 

u How, my son !" cried Paslew. " I understand you not." 

" Yo'n onderstond me weel enough by-and-by," replied Hal. 
" Dunnah be feart whon ye see me next ; an comfort yoursel that 
whotever cums and goes, your death shall be avenged o' your 
warst foe." 

Paslew would have sought some further explanation, but Hal 
stepped quickly backwards, and striking his foot against the door, 
it was instantly opened by the guard, and he went forth. 

Not long after this, the Earl of Derby entered the great hall, 
and his first inquiry was as to the safety of the prisoners. When 
satisfied of this, he looked forth, and shuddered at the dismal 
state of the weather. While he was addressing some remarks on 
this subject, and on its interference with the tragical exhibition 
about to take place, an officer entered the hall, followed by several 
persons of inferior condition, amongst whom was Hal o' Nabs, 
and marched up to the earl, while the others remained standing 
at a respectful distance. 

" What news do you bring me, sir?" cried the earl, noticing 
the officer's evident uneasiness of manner. " Nothing hath hap 
pened to the prisoners 1 God's death I if it hath, you shall all 
answer for it with your bodies." 

" Nothing hath happened to them, my lord/' said the officer,- 
but " 



THE EXECUTIONER. 55 

u But what ? " interrupted the earl. " Out with it quickly." 

" The executioner from Lancaster and his two aids have fled," 
replied the officer. 

"Fled!" exclaimed the earl, stamping his foot with rage; 
if now, as I live, this is a device to delay the execution till some 
new attempt at rescue can be made. But it shall fail, if I string 
up the abbot myself. Death ! can no other hangmen be found I 
ha!" 

" Of a surety, my lord ; but all have an aversion to the office, 
and hold it opprobrious, especially to put churchmen to death," 
replied the officer. 

" Opprobrious or not, it must be done," replied the earl. " See 
that fitting persons are provided." 

At this moment Hal o' Nabs stepped forward. 

" Ey'm willing t' ondertake t' job, my lord, an' t' hong t' abbut, 
without fee or rewort," he said. 

" Thou bears't him a grudge, I suppose, good fellow," replied 
the earl, laughing at the rustic's uncouth appearance ; " but thou 
seem'st a stout fellow, and one not likely to flinch, and may dis 
charge the office as well as another. If no better man can be 
found, let him do it," he added to the officer. 

" Ey humbly thonk your lortship," replied Hal, inwardly 
rejoicing at the success of his scheme. But his countenance fell 
when he perceived Demdike advance from behind the others. 

(t This man is not to be trusted, my lord," said Demdike, 
coming forward ; " he has some mischievous design in making 
the request. So far from bearing enmity to the abbot, it was he 
who assisted him in his attempt to escape last night." 

" What !" exclaimed the earl, "is this a new trick? Bring the 
fellow forward, that I may examine him." 

But Hal was gone. Instantly divining Demdike's purpose, 
and seeing his chance lost, he mingled with the lookers-on, who 
covered his retreat. Nor could he be found when sought for by 
the guard. 

" See you provide a substitute quickly, sir," cried the earl, 
angrily, to the officer. 

" It is needless to take further trouble, my lord," replied Dem 
dike ; " I am come to offer myself as executioner." 

"Thou!" exclaimed the earl. 

" Ay," replied the other. " When I heard that the men from 
Lancaster were fled, I instantly knew that some scheme to frus 
trate the ends of justice was on foot, and I at once resolved to 
undertake the office myself rather than delay or risk should occur. 
What this man's aim was, who hath just offered himself, I partly 
guess, but it hath failed ; and if your lordship will intrust the 
matter to me, I will answer that no further impediment shall 
arise, but that the sentence shall be fully carried out, and the law 
satisfied. Your lordship can trust me.'* 



56 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

rt I know it," replied the earl. " Be it as you will. It is now 
on the stroke of nine. At ten, let all be in readiness to set out 
for Wiswall Hall. The rain may have ceased by that time, but 
no weather must stay you. Go forth with the new executioner, 
sir," he added to the officer, te and see all necessary preparations 
made." 

And as Demdike bowed, and departed with the officer, the earl 
sat down with his retainers to break his fast. 



CHAPTER IX. WISWALL HALL. 

SHORTLY before ten o'clock a numerous cortege, consisting of 
a troop of horse in their full equipments, a band of archers with 
their bows over their shoulders, and a long train of barefoot 
monks, who had been permitted to attend, set out from the 
abbey. Behind them came a varlet with a paper mitre on his 
head, and a lathen crosier in his hand, covered with a surcoat, 
on which was emblazoned, but torn and reversed, the arms of 
Paslew ; argent, a fess between three mullets, sable, pierced of 
the field, a crescent for difference. After him came another 
varlet bearing a banner, on which was painted a grotesque figure 
in a half-military, half-monastic garb, representing the " Earl of 
Poverty," with this distich beneath it: 

Priest and warrior rich and poor, 
He shall be hanged at his own door. 

Next followed a tumbrel, drawn by two horses, in which sat 
the abbot alone, the two other prisoners being kept back for the 
present. Then came Demdike, in a leathern jerkin and blood-red 
hose, fitting closely to his sinewy limbs, and wrapped in a houp- 
peland of the same colour as the hose, with a coil of rope round 
his neck. He walked between two ill-favoured personages habited 
in black, whom he had chosen as assistants. A band of halberdiers 
brought up the rear. The procession moved slowly along, the 
passing-bell tolling each minute, and a muffled drum sounding 
hollowly at intervals. 

Shortly before the procession started the rain ceased, but the air 
felt damp and chill, and the roads were inundated. Passing out at 
the north-eastern gateway, the gloomy train skirted the south side 
of the convent church, and went on in the direction of the village 
of Whalley. When near the east end of the holy edifice, the abbot 
beheld two coffins borne along, and, on inquiry, learnt that they 
contained the bodies of Bess Demdike and Cuthbert Ashbead, 
who were about to be interred in the cemetery. At this moment 
his eye for the first time encountered that of his implacable foe, 
and he then discovered that he was to serve as his executioner. 



WISWALL HALL. 57 

At first Paslew felt much trouble at this thought, but the feeling 
quickly passed away. On reaching Whalley, every door was 
found closed, and every window shut ; so that the spectacle was 
lost upon the inhabitants ; and after a brief halt, the cavalcade 
eet out for Wiswall Hall. 

Sprung from an ancient family residing in the neighbourhood 
of Whalley, Abbot Paslew was the second son of Francis Paslew 
of WiswaU Hall, a great gloomy stone mansion, situated at the 
foot of the south-western side of Pendle Hill, where his brother 
Francis still resided. Of a cold and cautious character, Francis 
Paslew, second of the name, held aloof from the insurrection, and 
when his brother was arrested he wholly abandoned him. Still 
the owner of Wiswall had not altogether escaped suspicion, and 
it was probably as much with the view of degrading him as of 
adding to the abbot's punishment, that the latter was taken to 
the hall on the morning of his execution. Be this as it may, the 
cortege toiled thither through roads bad in the best of seasons, 
but now, since the heavy rain, scarcely passable ; and it arrived 
there in about half an hour, and drew up on the broad green 
lawn. Window and door of the hall were closed ; no smoke issued 
from the heavy pile of chimneys ; and to all outward seeming the 
place was utterly deserted. In answer to inquiries, it appeared 
that Francis Paslew had departed for Northumberland on the 
previous day, taking all his household with him. 

In earlier years, a quarrel having occurred between the haughty 
abbot and the churlish Francis, the brothers rarely met, whence 
it chanced that John Paslew had seldom visited the place of his 
birth of late, though lying so near to the abbey, and, indeed, 
forming part of its ancient dependencies. It was sad to view it 
now ; and yet the house, gloomy as it was, recalled seasons with 
which, though they might awaken regret, no guilty associations 
were connected. Dark was the hall, and desolate, but on the 
fine old trees around it the rooks were settling, and their loud 
cawings pleased him, and excited gentle emotions. For a few 
moments he grew young again, and forgot why he was there. 
Fondly surveying the house, the terraced garden, in which, as a 
boy, he had so often strayed, and the park beyond it, where he 
had chased the deer; his gaze rose to the cloudy heights of 
Pendle, springing immediately behind the mansion, and up which 
he had frequently climbed. The flood-gates of memory were 
opened at once, and a whole tide of long-buried 'feelings rushed 
upon his heart. 

From this half-painful, half-pleasurable retrospect he was 
aroused by the loud blast of a trumpet, thrice blown. A recapi 
tulation of his offences, together with his sentence, was read by 
a herald, after which the reversed blazonry was fastened upon the 
door of the hall, just below a stone escutcheon on which was 
carved the arms of the family ; while the paper mitre was torn 



58 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

and trampled under foot, the lathen crosier broken in twain, and 
the scurril banner hacked in pieces. 

While this degrading act was performed, a man in a miller's 
white garb, with the hood drawn over his face, forced his way 
towards the tumbrel, and while the attention of the guard was 
otherwise engaged, whispered in Paslew's ear, 

"Ey han failed i' mey scheme, feyther abbut, boh rest assured 
ey'n avenge you. Demdike shan ha' mey Sheffield thwittl^ i' his 
heart 'efore he's a day older." 

" The wizard has a charm against steel, my son, and indeed is 
proof against all weapons forged by men," replied Paslew, who 
recognised the voice of Hal o* Nabs, and hoped by this assertion 
to divert him from his purpose. 

" Ha ! say yo so, feythur abbut ? v cried Hal. " Then ey'n 
reach him wi' summot sacred." And he disappeared. 

At this moment, word was given to return, and in half an hour 
the cavalcade arrived at the abbey in the same order it had left.it. 

Though the rain had ceased, heavy clouds still hung overhead, 
threatening another deluge, and the aspect of the abbey remained 
gloomy as ever. The befl continued to toll ; drums were beaten; 
and trumpets sounded from the outer and inner gateway, and 
from the three quadrangles. The cavalcade drew up in front of 
the great northern entrance ; and its return being announced 
within, the two other captives were brought forth, each fastened 
upon a hurdle, harnessed to a stout horse. They looked dead 
already, so ghastly was the hue of their cheeks. 

The abbot's turn came next. Another hurdle was brought 
forward, and Demdike advanced to the tumbrel. But Paslew 
recoiled from his touch, and sprang to the ground unaided. He 
was then laid on his back upon the hurdle, and his hands and feet 
were bound fast with ropes to the twisted timbers. While this 
painful task was roughly performed by the wizard's two ill-favoured 
assistants, the crowd of rustics who looked on, murmured and 
exhibited such strong tokens of displeasure, that the guard thought 
it prudent to keep them off with their halberts. But when all was 
done, Demdike motioned to a man standing behind him to advance, 
and the person who was wrapped in a russet cloak complied, drew 
forth an infant, and held it in such way that the abbot could see 
it. Paslew understood what was meant, but he uttered not a 
word. Demdike then knelt down beside him, as if ascertaining 
the security of the cords, and whispered in his ear: 

" Recall thy malediction, and my dagger shall save thee from 
the last indignity." 

" Never," replied Paslew ; " the curse is irrevocable. But I 
would not recall it if I could. As I have said, thy child shall be 
a witch, and the mother of witches but all shall be swept off 
all!" 

"Hell's torments seize theel" cried the wizard, furiously. 



THE HOLEHOUSES. 9 

"Nay, them hast done thy worst to me," rejoined Paslew, 
meekly, " thou canst not harm me beyond the grave. Look to 
thyself, for even as thou speakest, thy child is taken from thee." 

And so it was. While Demdike knelt beside Paslew, a hand 
was put forth, and, before the man who had custody of the infant 
could prevent it, his little charge was snatched from him. This 
the abbot saw, though the wizard perceived it not. The latter 
instantly sprang to his feet. 

" Where is the child I" he demanded of the fellow in the russet 
cloak. 

" It was taken from me by yon tall man who is disappearing 
through the gateway," replied the other, in great trepidation. 

" Ha ! he here ! " exclaimed Demdike, regarding the dark 
figure with a look of despair. <e lt is gone from me for ever!" 

" Ay, for ever !" echoed the abbot, solemnly. 

" But revenge is still left me revenge !" cried Demdike, with 
an infuriated gesture. 

" Then glut thyself with it speedily," replied the abbot ; " for 
thy time here is short." 

" I care not if it be," replied Demdike ; " I shall live long enough 
if I survive thee." 



CHAPTER X. THE HOLEHOUSES. 

AT this moment the blast of a trumpet resounded from the 
gateway, and the Earl of Derby, with the sheriff on his right 
hand, and Assheton on the left, and mounted on a richly 
caparisoned charger, rode forth. He was preceded by four javelin- 
men, and followed by two heralds in their tabards. 

To doleful tolling of bells to solemn music to plaintive 
hymn chanted by monks to roll of muffled drum at intervals 
the sad cortege set forth. Loud cries from the bystanders 
marked its departure, and some of them followed it, but many 
turned away, unable to endure the sight of horror about 
to ensue. Amongst those who went on was Hal o' Nabs, 
but he took care to keep out of the way of the guard, though 
he was little likely to be recognised, owing to his disguise. 

Despite the miserable state of the weather, a great multitude 
was assembled at the place of execution, and they watched the 
approaching cavalcade with moody curiosity. To prevent distur 
bance, arquebussiers were stationed in parties here and there, and 
a clear course for the cortege was preserved by two lines of hal 
berdiers with crossed pikes. But notwithstanding this, much 
difficulty was experienced in mounting the hill. Rendered 
slippery by the wet, and yet more so by the trampling of the 
crowd, the road was so bad in places that the horses could scarcely 



60 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

drag the hurdles up it, and more than one delay occurred. The 
stoppages were always denounced by groans, yells, and hootings 
from the mob, and these neither the menaces of the Earl of Derby, 
nor the active measures of the guard, could repress. 

At length, however, the cavalcade reached its destination. 
Then the crowd struggled forward, and settled into a dense com 
pact ring, round the circular railing enclosing the place of execu 
tion, within which were drawn up the Earl of Derby^ the 
sheriff, Assheton, and the principal gentlemen, together with 
Demdike and his assistants; the guard forming a circle three 
deep round them. 

Paslew was first unloosed, and when he stood up, he found 
Father Smith, the late prior, beside him, and tenderly embraced him. 
" Be of good courage. Father Abbot," said the prior ; " a few 
moments, and you will be numbered with the just." 

" My hope is in the infinite mercy of Heaven, father/' replied 
Paslew, sighing deeply. " Pray for me at the last." 

" Doubt it not." returned the prior, fervently. u I will pray 
for you now and ever." 

Meanwhile, the bonds of the two other captives were unfastened, 
but they were found wholly unable to stand without support. A 
lofty ladder had been placed against the central scaffold, and up 
this Demdike, having cast off his houppeland, mounted and adjusted 
the rope. His tall gaunt figure, fully displayed in his tight-fitting 
red garb, made him look like a hideous scarecrow. His appearance 
was greeted by the mob with a perfect hurricane of indignant out 
cries and yells. But he heeded them not, but calmly pursued his 
task. Above him wheeled the two ravens, who had never quitted 
the place since daybreak, uttering their discordant cries. When 
all was done, he descended a few steps, and, taking a black hood 
from his girdle to place over the head of his victim, called out in a 
voice which had little human in its tone, "I wait for you, John 
Paslew." 

" Are you ready, Paslew?" demanded the Earl of Derby. 
" I am, my lord," replied the abbot. And embracing the prior 
for the last time, he added, " Vale, carissime f rater , in ceternum vale! 
et Domirius teeum sit in ultionem inimicorum nostrorum!" 

" It is the king's pleasure that you say not a word in your justi 
fication to the mob, Paslew," observed the earl. 

" I had no such intention, my lord," replied the abbot. 
" Then tarry no longer," said the earl; "if you need aid you shall 
have it." 

" I require none," replied Paslew, resolutely. 
With this he mounted the ladder, with as much firmness and 
dignity as if ascending the steps of a tribune. 

Hitherto nothing but yells and angry outcries had stunned the 
ears of the lookers-on, and several missiles had been hurled at 
Demdike, some of which took effect, though without occasioning 



THE HOJ.EHOUSES. 61 

him discomfiture; but when the .abbot appeared above the heads 
of the guard, the tumult instantly subsided, and profound silence 
ensued. Not a breath was drawn by the spectators. The ravens 
alone continued their ominous croaking. 

Hal o' Nabs, who stood on the outskirts of the ring, saw thus 
far, but he could bear it no longer, and rushed down the hill. Just as 
he reached the level ground, a culverin was fired from the gateway, 
and the next moment a loud wailing cry bursting from the mob told 
that the abbot was launched into eternity. 

Hal would not look back, but went slowly on, and presently after 
wards other horrid sounds dinned in his ears, telling that all was over 
with the two other sufferers. Sickened and faint, he leaned against 
a wall for support. How long he continued thus, he knew not, 
but he heard the cavalcade coming down the hill, and saw the Earl 
of Derby and his attendants ride past. Glancing toward the place 
of execution, Hal then perceived that the abbot had been cut down, 
and, rousing himself, he joined the crowd now rushing towards the 
gate, and ascertained that the body ot Paslew was to be taken 
to the convent church, and deposited there till orders were to 
be given respecting its interment. He learnt, also, that the re 
moval of the corpse was intrusted to Demdike. Fired by this 
intelligence, and suddenly conceiving a wild project of vengeance, 
founded upon what he had heard from the abbot of the wizard 
being proof against weapons forged by men, he hurried to the church,, 
entered it, the door being thrown open, and rushing up to the 
gallery, contrived to get out through a window upon the top of the 
porch, where he secreted himself behind the great stone statue of 
Saint Gregory. 

The information he had obtained proved correct. Ere long a 
mournful train approached the church, and a bier was set down 
before the porch. A black hood covered the face of the dead, but 
the vestments showed that it was the body of Paslew. 

At the head of the bearers was Demdike, and when the body was 
set down he advanced towards it, and, removing the hood, gazed: 
at the livid and distorted features. 

" At length I am fully avenged," he said. 
" And Abbot Paslew, also," cried a voice above him. 
Demdike looked up, but the look was his last, for the ponderous 
statue of Saint Gregory de Northbury, launched from its pedestal, 
fell upon his head, and crushed him to the ground. A mangled 
and breathless mass was taken from beneath the image, and the 
hands and visage of Paslew were found spotted with blood dashed 
from the gory carcass. The author of the wizard's destruction wa& 
suspected, but never found, nor was it positively known who had 
done the deed till years after, when Hal o' Nabs, who meanwhile 
had married pretty Dorothy Croft, and had been blessed by nu 
merous offspring in the union, made his last confession, and then he 



62 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

exhibited no remarkable or becoming penitence for the act, neither 
was he refused absolution. 

Thus it came to pass that the abbot and his enemy perished 
together. The mutilated remains of the wizard were placed in a 
shell, and huddled into the grave where his wife had that morning 
been laid. But no prayer was said over him. And the superstitious be 
lieved that the body was carried off that very night by the Fiend, and 
taken to a witch's sabbath in the ruined tower on Bimingtou Moor. 
Certain it was, that the unhallowed grave was disturbed. The 
body of Paslew was decently interred in the north aisle of the parish 
church of Whalley, beneath a stone with a Gothic cross sculptured 
upon it, and bearing the piteous inscription : ec Jfilt'0^f CVt tnri," 

But in the belief of the vulgar the abbot did not rest tranquilly. 
For many years afterwards a white-robed monastic figure was seen 
to flit along the cloisters, pass out at the gate, and disappear with 
a wailing cry over the Holehouses. And the same ghostly figure 
was often seen to glide through the corridor in the abbot's lodging, 
and vanish at the door of the chamber leading to the little oratory. 
Thus Whalley Abbey was supposed to be haunted, and few liked 
to wander through its deserted cloisters, or ruined church, after 
dark. The abbot's tragical end was thus recorded : 

Capital* 

12o #amsis 4&artit, 1537. 



As to the infant, upon whom the abbot's malediction fell, it was 
reserved for the dark destinies shadowed forth in the dread ana 
thema he had uttered : to the development of which the tragic 
drama about to follow is devoted, and to which the fate of Abbot 
Paslew forms a necessary and fitting prologue. Thus far the veil 
of the Future may be drawn aside. That infant and her progeny 
became the LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 



END OF THE INTRODUCTION, 



THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 



BOOK THE FIEST. 



CHAPTER I. THE MAY QUEEN. 

ON a May-day in the early part of the seventeenth century, 
and a most lovely May-day, too, admirably adapted to usher in 
the merriest month of the year, and seemingly made expressly for 
the occasion, a wake was held at Whalley, to which all the neigh 
bouring country folk resorted, and indeed many of the gentry as 
well, for in the good old times, when England was still merry 
England, a wake had attractions for all classes alike, and especially 
in Lancashire; for, with pride I speak it, there were no lads who, 
in running, vaulting, wrestling, dancing, or in any other manly 
exercise, could compare with the Lancashire lads. In archery, 
above all, none could match them; for were not their ancestors 
the stout bowmen and billmen whose cloth-yard shafts, and tren 
chant weapons, won the day at Flodden? And were they not 
true sons of their fathers? And then, I speak it with yet 
greater pride, there were few, if any, lasses who could compare 
in comeliness with the rosy-cheeked, dark-haired, bright-eyed 
lasses of Lancashire. 

Assemblages of this kind, therefore, where the best specimens 
of either sex were to be met with, were sure to be well attended, 
and in spite of an enactment passed in the preceding reign of 
Elizabeth, prohibiting -'piping, playing, bear-baiting, and bull- 
baiting on the Sabbath-days, or on any other days, and also 
superstitious ringing of bells, wakes, and common feasts," they 
were not only not interfered with, but rather encouraged by the 
higher orders. Indeed, it was well known that the reigning 
monarch, James the First, inclined the other way, and, desirous 
of checking the growing spirit of Puritanism throughout the 
kingdom, had openly expressed himself in favour of honest recrea 
tion after evening prayers and upon holidays ; and, furthermore, 
had declared that he liked well the spirit of his good subjects in 
Lancashire, and would not see them punished for indulging in 
lawful exercises, but that ere long he would pay them a visit in 



64 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

one of his progresses, and judge for himself, and if he found all 
things as they had been represented to him, he would grant 
then? still further licence. Meanwhile, this expression of the 
royal opinion removed every restriction, and old sports and 
pastimes, May-games, Whitsun-ales, and morris-dances, with 
rush-bearings, bell-ringings, wakes, and feasts, were as much 
practised as before the passing of the obnoxious enactment of 
Elizabeth. The Puritans and Precisians discountenanced- them, 
it is true, as much as ever, and would have put them down if 
they could, as savouring of papistry and idolatry, and some rigid 
divines thundered against them from the pulpit ; but with the 
king and the authorities in their favour, the people little heeded 
these denunciations against them, and abstained not from any 
" honest recreation" whenever a holiday occurred. 

If Lancashire was famous for wakes, the wakes of Whalley 
were famous even in Lancashire. The men of the district were 
in general a hardy, handsome race, of the genuine Saxon breed, 
and passionately fond of all kinds of pastime, and the women had 
their full share of the beauty indigenous to the soil. Besides, it 
was a secluded spot, in the heart of a wild mountainous region, 
and though occasionally visited by travellers journeying north 
ward, or by others coming from the opposite direction, retained a 
primitive simplicity of manners, and a great partiality for old 
customs and habits. 

The natural beauties of the place, contrasted with the dreary 
region around it, and heightened by the picturesque ruins of the 
ancient abbey, part of which, namely, the old abbot's lodgings, had 
been converted into a residence by the Asshetons, and was now 
occupied by Sir Ralph Assheton, while the other was left to the 
ravages of time, made it always an object of attraction to those 
residing near it ; but when on the May-day in question, there 
was not only to be a wake, but a May-pole set on the green, and 
a rush-bearing with morris-dancers besides, together with Whit- 
sun-ale at the abbey, crowds flocked to Whalley from Wiswall, 
Cold Coates, and Clithero, from Ribchester and Blackburn, from 
Padiham and Pendle, and even from places more remote. Not 
only was John Lawe's of the Dragon full, but the Cheouers, and 
the Swan also, and the roadside alehouse to boot, sir Ralph 
Assheton had several guests at the abbey, and others were 
expected in the course of the day, while Doctor Ormerod had 
friends staying with him at the vicarage. 

Soon after midnight, on the morning of the festival, many 
young persons of the village, of both sexes, had arisen, and, to the 
sound of horn, had repaired to the neighbouring woods, and there 
gathered a vast stock of green boughs and flowering branches of 
the sweetly -perfumed hawthorn, wild roses, and honeysuckle, with 
baskets of violets, cowslips, primroses, blue-bells, and other wild 
flowers, and returning in the same order they went forth, fashion- 



THE MAY QUEEN. 65 

ed the branches into green bowers within the churchyard, or 
round about the May-pole set up on the green, and decorated 
them afterwards with garlands and crowns of flowers. This 
morning ceremonial ought to have been performed without wetting 
the feet : but though some pains were taken in the matter, few 
could achieve the difficult task, except those carried over the 
dewy grass by their lusty swains. On the day before the rushes 
had been gathered, and the rush cart piled, shaped, trimmed, and 
adorned by those experienced in the task, (and it was one re 
quiring both taste and skill, as will be seen when the cart itself 
shall come forth,) while others had borrowed for its adornment 
from the abbey and elsewhere, silver tankards, drinking-cups, 
spoons, ladles, brooches, watches, chains, and bracelets, so as to 
make an imposing show. 

Day was ushered in by a merry peal of bells from the tower of 
the old parish church, and the ringers practised all kinds of joyous 
changes during the morning, and fired many a clanging volley. 
The whole village was early astir ; and as these were times when 
good hours were kept ; and as early rising is a famous sharpener 
of the appetite, especially when attended with exercise, so an 
hour before noon the rustics one and all sat down to dinner, the 
strangers being entertained by their friends, and if they had no 
friends, throwing themselves upon the general hospitality. The 
alehouses were reserved for tippling at a later hour, for it was 
then customary for both gentleman and commoner, male as well 
as female, as will be more fully shown hereafter, to take their 
meals at home, and repair afterwards to houses of public enter 
tainment for wine or other liquors. Private chambers were, of 
course, reserved for the gentry ; but not unfrequently the squire 
and his friends would take their bottle with the other guests. 
Such was the invariable practice in the northern counties in the 
reign of James the First. 

Soon after mid-day, and when the bells began to peal merrily 
again (for even ringers must recruit themselves), at a small 
cottage in the outskirts of the village, and close to the Calder, 
whose waters swept past the trimly kept garden attached to it, 
two young girls were employed in attiring a third, who was to 
represent Maid Marian, or Queen of May, in the pageant then 
about to ensue. And, certainly, by sovereign and prescriptive 
right of beauty, no one better deserved the high title and distinc 
tion conferred upon her than this fair girl. Lovelier maiden in 
the whole county, and however high her degree, than this rustic 
damsel, it was impossible to find ; and though the becoming and 
fanciful costume in which she was decked could not heighten her 
natural charms, it certainly displayed them to advantage. Upon 
her smooth and beautiful brow sat a gilt crown, while her dark 
and luxuriant hair, covered behind with a scarlet coif, embroider 
ed with gold, and tied with vellow, white, and crimson ribands, 



b6 THE LANCASHIRE WITCH KS. 

but otherwise wholly unconfined, swept down almost to the 
ground. Slight and fragile, her figure was of such just propor 
tion that every movement and gesture had an indescribable 
charm. The most courtly dame might have envied her fine and 
taper fingers, and fancied she could improve them by protecting 
them against the sun, or by rendering them snowy white with 
paste or cosmetic, but this was questionable ; nothing certainly 
could improve the small foot and finely-turned ankle, so well, dis 
played in the red hose and smart little yellow buskin, fringed with 
gold. A stomacher of scarlet cloth, braided with yellow lace in 
cross bars, confined her slender waist. Her robe was of carna 
tion-coloured silk, with wide sleeves, and the gold-fringed skirt 
descended only a little below the knee, like the dress of a modern 
Swiss peasant, so as to reveal the exquisite symmetry of her 
lirnbs. Over all she wore a surcoat of azure silk, lined with 
white, and edged with gold. In her left hand she ,held a red pink 
as an emblem of the season. So enchanting was her appearance 
altogether, so fresh the character of her beauty, so bright the 
bloom that dyed her lovely cheeks, that she might have been 
taken for a personification of May herself. She was indeed in 
the very May of life the mingling of spring and summer in 
womanhood ; and the tender blue eyes, bright and clear as dia 
monds of purest water, the soft regular features, and the merry 
mouth, whose ruddy parted lips ever and anon displayed two 
rows of pearls, completed the similitude to the attributes of the 
jocund month. 

Her handmaidens, both of whom were simple girls, and though 
not destitute of some pretensions to beauty themselves, in nowise 
to be compared with her, were at the moment employed in knot 
ting the ribands in her hair, and adjusting the azure surcoat. 

Attentively watching these proceedings sat on a stool, placed 
in a corner, a little girl, some nine or ten years old, with a basket 
of flowers on her knee. The child was very diminutive, even for 
her age, and her smallness was increased by personal deformity, 
occasioned by contraction of the chest, and spinal curvature, 
which raised her back above her shoulders ; but her features were 
sharp and cunning, indeed almost malignant, and there was a 
singular and unpleasant look about the eyes, which were not. 
placed evenly in the head. Altogether she had a strange old- 
fashioned look, and from her habitual bitterness of speech, as well 
as from her vindictive character, which, young as she was, had 
been displayed, with some effect, on more than one occasion, she 
was no great favourite with any one. It was curious now to 
watch the eager and envious interest she took in the progress of 
her sister's adornment for such was the degree ot relationship 
in which she stood to the May Queen and when the surcoat was 
finally adjusted, and the last riband tied, she broke forth, having 
hitherto preserved a sullen silence. 




THE MAY QUEEN. 



P. 66. 



, 



THE MAY QUEEN. 67 

' Weel, sister Alizon, ye may a farrently May Queen, ey mun 
say," she observed, spitefully, " but to my mind other Suky 
Worseley, or Nancy Holt, here, would ha' looked prottier." 

" Nah, nah, that we shouldna," rejoined one of the damsels 
referred to ; " there is na a lass i' Lonkyshiar to hold a con die 
near Alizon Device." 

" Fie upon ye, for an ill-favort minx, Jennet," cried Nancy 
Holt ; " yo're jealous o' your protty sister." 

" Ey jealous," cried Jennet, reddening, " an whoy the fimips 
should ey be jealous, ey, thou saucy jade ! Whon ey grow older 
Oy'st may a prottier May Queen than onny on you, an so the 
lads aw tell me." 

" And so you will, Jennet," said Alizon Device, checking, by 
a gentle look, the jeering laugh in which Nancy seemed disposed 
to indulge "so you will, my pretty little sister," she added, 
kissing her; st and I will 'tire you as well and as carefully as Susan 
and Nancy have just 'tired me." 

" Mayhap ey shanna live till then," rejoined Jennet, peevishly, 
" and when ey'm dead an' gone, an' laid i' t' cowld churchyard, 
yo an they win be sorry fo having werreted me so." 

" I have never intentionally vexed you, Jennet, love," said 
Alizon, " and I am sure these two girls love you dearly." 

rt Eigh, we may allowance fo her feaw tempers," observed Susan 
Worseley; fo we knoa that ailments an deformities are sure to 
may folk fretful." 

u Eigh, tkere it is," cried Jennet, sharply. " My high shoulthcrs 
an sma size are always thrown i' my feace. Boh ey'st grow tall i' 
time, an get straight eigh straighter than yo, Suky, wi' your 
broad back an short neck boh if ey dunna, whot matters it? 
Ey shall be feared at onny rate ay, feared, wenches, by ye both." 

u Nah doubt on't, theaw little good-fo'-nothin piece o' mischief," 
muttered Susan. 

" Whot's that yo sayn, Suky?" cried Jennet, whose quick ears 
had caught the words. " Tak care whot ye do to offend me, lass," 
she added, shaking her thin fingers, armed with talon-like claws, 
threateningly at her, " or ey'll ask my granddame, Mother Dem- 
dike, to quieten ye." 

At the mention of this name a sudden shade came over 
Susan's countenance. Changing colour, and slightly trembling, 
she turned away from the child, who, noticing the effect of her 
threat, could not repress her triumph. But again Alizon interposed. 

" Do not be alarmed, Susan," she said, " my grandmother will 
never harm you, I am sure; indeed, she will never harm any one; 
and do not heed what little Jennet says, for she is not aware of 
the effect of her own words, or of the injury they might do our 
grandmother, if repeated." 

" Ey dunna wish to repeat them, or to think of em," sobbed 
Susan. 



68 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" That's good, that's kind of you, Susan," replied Alizon, taking 
her hand. " Do not be cross any more, Jennet. You see you 
have made her weep." 

" Ey'm glad on it," rejoined the little girl, laughing ; " let her 
cry on. It'U do her good, an teach her to mend her manners, and 
nan offend me again." 

" Ey didna mean to offend ye, Jennet," sobbed Susan, " boh 
yo're so wrythen an marr'd, a body canna speak to please ye." 

" Weel, if ye confess your fault, ey'm satisfied," replied' the 
little girl ; " boh let it be a lesson to ye, Suky, to keep guard o' 
your tongue i' future." 

" It shall, ey promiae ye," replied Susan, drying her eyes. 

At this moment a door opened, and a woman entered from an 
inner room, having a high-crowned, conical-shaped hat on her 
head, and broad white pinners over her cheeks. Her dress was 
of dark red camlet, with high-heeled shoes. She stooped slightly, 
and being rather lame, supported herself on a crutch-handled 
stick. In age she might be between forty and fifty, but she 
looked much older, and her features were not at all prepossessing 
from a hooked nose and chin, while their sinister effect was in 
creased by a formation of the eyes similar to that in Jennet, only 
more strongly noticeable in her case. This woman was Elizabeth 
Device, widow of John Device, about whose death there was a 
mystery to be inquired into hereafter, and mother of Alizon and 
Jennet, though how she came to have a daughter so unlike her 
self in all respects as the former, no one could conceive ; but so 
it was. 

" Soh, ye ha donned your finery at last, Alizon," said Eliza 
beth. " Your brother Jem has just run up to say that t' rush-cart 
has set out, and that Robin Hood and his merry men are comin' 
for their Queen." 

"And their Queen is quite ready for them," replied Alizon, 
moving towards the door. 

" Neigh, let's ha' a look at ye fust, wench," cried Elizabeth, 
staying her : " fine fitthers may fine brids ey warrant me now 
yo'n getten these May gewgaws on, yo fancy yourself a queen 
in, arnest." 

" A queen of a day, mother ; a queen of a little village festival ; 
nothing more," replied Alizon. " Oh, if I were a queen in right 
earnest, or even a great lady " 

" Whot would yo do ? " demanded Elizabeth Device, sourly. 

" I'd make you rich, mother, and build you a grand house to 
live in," replied Alizon ; " much grander than Browsholme, or 
Downham, or Middleton." 

"Pity yo're nah a queen then, Alizon," replied Elizabeth, 
relaxing her harsh features into a wintry smile. 

u Whot would ye do fo me, Alizon, if ye were a queen ?" asked 
little Jennet, looking up at her. 



I 



THE MAY QUEEN. 69 

Why, let me see," was the reply ; " I'd indulge every one of 
your whims and wishes. You should only need ask to have." 

" Poh poll yo'd never content her," observed Elizabeth, 
testily. 

et It's nah your way to try an content me, mother, even whon 
e might," rejoined Jennet, who, if she loved few people, loved 
er mother least of all, and never lost an opportunity of testifying 
her dislike to her. 

"Awt o'pontee, little wasp," cried her mother; "theaw de- 
sarves nowt boh whot theaw dustna get often enough a good 
whipping." 

" Yo hanna towd us whot yo'd do fo yurself if yo war a great 
lady, Alizon *? " interposed Susan. 

66 Oh, I haven't thought about myself," replied the other, 
laughing. 

" Ey con tell ye what she'd do, Suky," replied little Jennet, 
knowingly ; " she'd marry Master Richard Assheton, o' Mid- 
dleton." 

" Jennet !" exclaimed Alizon, blushing crimson. 

" It's true," replied the little girl ; " ye knoa ye would, Alizon. 
Look at her feace," she added, with a screaming laugh. 

" Howd te tongue, little plague," cried Elizabeth, rapping her 
knuckles with her stick, u and behave thyself, or theaw shanna go 
out to t' wake." 

Jennet dealt her mother a bitterly vindictive look, but she neither 
uttered cry, nor made remark. 

In the momentary silence that ensued the blithe jingling of bells 
was heard, accompanied by the merry sound of tabor and pipe. 

"Ah ! here come the rush-cart and the morris-dancers," cried 
Alizon, rushing joyously to the window, which, being left partly 
open, admitted the scent of the woodbine and eglantine by which 
it was overgrown, as well as the humming sound of the bees by 
which the flowers were invaded. 

Almost immediately afterwards a frolic troop, like a band of 
masquers, approached the cottage, and drew up before it, while the 
jingling of bells ceasing at the same moment, told that the rush- 
cart had stopped likewise. Chief amongst the party was Robin 
Hood clad in a suit of Lincoln green, with a sheaf of arrows at his 
back, a bugle dangling from his baldric, a bow in his hand, and a 
broad-leaved green hat on his head, looped up on one side, and 
decorated with a heron's feather. The hero of Sherwood was per 
sonated by a tall, well-limbed fellow, to whom, being really a forester 
of Bowland, the character was natural. Beside him stood a very 
different figure, a jovial friar, with shaven crown, rubicund cheeks, 
bull throat, and mighty paunch, covered by a russet habit, and 
girded in by a red cord, decorated with golden twist and tassel. 
He wore red hose and sandal shoon, and carried in his girdle a 
wallet, to contain a roast capon, a neat's tongue, or any other 



70 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

dainty given him. Friar Tuck, for such he was, found his re 
presentative in Ned Huddlestone, porter at the abbey, who, as 
the largest and stoutest man in the village, was chosen on that 
account to the part. Next to him came a character of no little 
importance, and upon whom much of the mirth of the pageant 
depended, and this devolved upon the village cobbler, Jack 
ll( tby, a dapper little fellow, who fitted the part of the Fool to a 
nicety. With bauble in hand, and blue coxcomb hood adopned 
with long white asses' ears on head, with jerkin of green, striped 
with yellow ; hose of different colours, the left leg being yellow, 
with a red pantoufle, and the right blue, terminated with a yellow 
shoe; with bells hung upon various parts of his motley attire, 
so that he could not move without producing a jingling sound, 
Jack Roby looked wonderful indeed; and was constantly dancing 
about, and dealing a blow with his bauble. Next came Will Scar 
let, Stukely, and Little John, all proper men and tall, attired in 
Lincoln green, like Robin Hood, and similarly equipped. Like him, 
too, they were all foresters of Bowland, owning service to the bow- 
bearer, Mr. Parker of Browsholme hall; and the representative of 
Little John, who was six feet and a half high, and stout in pro 
portion, was Lawrence Blackrod, Mr. Parker's head keeper. After 
the foresters came Tom the Piper, a wandering minstrel, habited 
for the occasion in a blue doublet, with sleeves of the same colour, 
turned up with yellow, red hose, and brown buskins, red bonnet, 
and green surcoat lined with yellow. Beside the piper was another 
minstrel, similarly attired, and provided with a tabor. Lastly 
came one of the main features of the pageant, and which, together 
with the Fool, contributed most materially to the amusement of 
the spectators. This was the Hobby-horse. The hue of this 
spirited charger was a pinkish white, and his housings were of crim 
son cloth hanging to the ground, so as to conceal the rider's real 
legs, though a pair of sham ones dangled at the side. His bit was 
of gold, and his bridle red morocco leather, while his rider was very 
sumptuously arrayed in a purple mantle, bordered with gold, with 
a rich cap of the same regal hue on his head, encircled with gold, 
and having a red feather stuck in it. The hobby-horse had a plume 
of nodding feathers on his head, and careered from side to side, 
now rearing in front, now kicking behind, now prancing, now gen 
tly ambling, and in short indulging in playful fancies and vagaries, 
such as horse never indulged in before, to the imminent danger, it 
seemed, of his rider, and to the huge delight of the beholders. Nor 
must it be omitted, as it was matter of great wonderment to the 
lookers-on, that by some legerdemain contrivance the rider of the 
hobby-horse had a couple of daggers stuck in his cheeks, while 
from his steed's bridle hung a silver ladle, which he held now and 
then to the crowd, and in which, when he did so, a few coins were 
sure to rattle. After the hobby-horse came the May-pole, not the 
tall pole so called and which was already planted in the green, but 



THE MAY QUEEN. 71 

a stout staff elevated some six feet above the head of the bearer, 
with a coronal of flowers atop, and four long garlands hanging down, 
each held by a moms-dancer. Then came the May Queen's gen 
tleman usher, a fantastic personage in habiliments of blue guarded 
with white, and holding a long willow wand in his hand. After 
the usher came the main troop of morris-dancers the men attired 
in a graceful costume, which set off their light active figures to ad 
vantage, consisting of a slashed jerkin of black and white velvet, 
with cut sleeves left open so as to reveal the snowy shirt beneath, 
white hose, and shoes of black Spanish leather with large roees. 
Ribands were every where in their dresses ribands and tinsel 
adorned their caps, ribands crossed their hose, and ribands were 
tied round their arms. In either hand they held a long white hand 
kerchief knotted with ribands. The female morris-dancers were 
habited in white, decorated like the dresses of the men ; they had 
ribands and wreaths of flowers round their heads, bows in their 
hair, and in their hands long white knotted kerchiefs. 

In the rear of the performers in the pageant came the rush-cart 
drawn by a team of eight stout horses, with their manes and tails 
tied with ribands, their collars fringed with red and yellow worsted, 
and hung with bells, which jingled blithely at every movement, 
and their heads decked with flowers. The cart itself consisted of 
an enormous pile of rushes, banded and twisted together, rising to 
a considerable height, and terminated in a sharp ridge, like the 
point of a Gothic window. The sides and top were decorated with 
flowers and ribands, and there were eaves in front and at the back, 
and on the space within them, which was covered with white paper, 
were strings of gaudy flowers, embedded in moss, amongst which 
were suspended all the ornaments and finery that could be collected 
for the occasion : to wit, flagons of silver, spoons, ladles, chains, 
watches, and bracelets, so as to make a brave and resplendent show. 
The wonder was how articles of so much value would be trusted 
forth on such an occasion ; but nothing was ever lost. On the top 
of the rush-cart, and bestriding its sharp ridges, sat half a dozen 
men, habited somewhat like the morris-dancers, in garments be 
decked with tinsel and ribands, holding garlands formed by hoops, 
decorated with flowers, and attached to poles ornamented with silver 
paper, cut into various figures and devices, and diminishing gradu 
ally in size as they rose to a point, where they were crowned with 
wreaths of daffodils. 

A large crowd of rustics, of all ages, accompanied the morris- 
dancers and rush-cart. 

This gay troop having come to a halt, as described, before the 
cottage, the gentleman-usher entered it, and, tapping against the 
inner door with his wand, took off his cap as soon as it was opened, 
and bowing deferentially to the ground, said he was come to in 
vite the Queen of May to join the pageant, and that it only awaited 
her presence to proceed to the green. Having delivered this speech 



I'l THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

in as good set phrase as he could command, and being the parish 
clerk and schoolmaster to boot, Sampson Harrop by name, he was 
somewhat more polished than the rest of the hinds; and having, 
moreover, received a gracious response from the May Queen, who 
condescendingly replied that she was quite ready to accompany 
him, he took her hand, and led her ceremoniously to the door, 
whither they were followed by the others. 

Loud was the shout that greeted Alizon's appearance, and tre 
mendous was the pushing to obtain a sight of her; and so much 
was she abashed by the enthusiastic greeting, which was wholly un 
expected on her part, that she would have drawn back again, if it 
had been possible ; but the usher led her forward, and Robin Hood 
and the foresters having bent the knee before her, the hobby-horse 
began to curvet anew among the spectators, and tread on their toes, 
the fool to rap their knuckles with his bauble, the piper to play, the 
taborer to beat his tambourine, and the morris-dancers to to&s their 
kerchiefs over their heads. Thus the pageant being put in motion, 
the rush-cart began to roll on, its horses' bells jingling merrily, 
and the spectators cheering lustily. 



CHAPTER II. THE BLACK CAT AND THE WHITE DO YE. 

LITTLE Jennet watched her sister's triumphant departure with 
a look in which there was far more of envy than sympathy, and, 
when her mother took her hand to lead her forth, she would not 
go, but saying she did not care for any such idle sights, went 
back sullenly to the inner room. When there, however, she 
could not help peeping through the window, and saw Susan and 
Nancy join the revel rout, with feelings of increased bitterness. 

" Ey wish it would rain an spile their finery," she said, sitting 
down on her stool, and plucking the flowers from her basket in 
pieces. "An yet, why canna ey enjoy such seets like other 
folk? Truth is, ey've nah heart for it.'" 

" Folks say," she continued, after a pause, " that grandmother 
Demdike is a witch, an con do os she pleases. Ey wonder if she 
made Alizon so protty. Nah, that canna be, fo' Alizon's na 
favourite o' hern. If she loves onny one it's me. Why dunna 
she make me good-looking, then I They say it's sinfu' to be a 
witch if so, how comes grandmother Demdike to be one ? Boh 
ey'n observed that those folks os caws her witch are afeard on 
her, so it may be pure spite o' their pert." 

As she thus mused, a great black cat belonging to her mother, 
which had followed her into the room, rubbed himself against 
her, putting up his back, and purring loudly. 

" Ah, Tib," said the little girl, "how are ye, Tib? Ey didna 
knoa ye were here. Lemme ask ye some questions, Tib I" 



THE BLACK CAT AND THE WHITE DOVE. 73 

The cat mewed, looked up, and fixed his great yellow eyes 
Upon her. 

" One 'ud think ye onderstud whot wos said to ye, Tib," pur 
sued little Jennet. " We'n see whot ye say to this ! Shan ey 
ever be Queen o' May, like sister Alizon f " 

The cat mewed in a manner that the little girl found no diffi 
culty in interpreting the reply into " No." 

"How's that, Tib?" cried Jennet, sharply. "If ey thought 
ye meant it, ey'd beat ye, sirrah. Answer me another question, 
ye saucy knave. Who will be luckiest, Alizon or me I " 

This time the cat darted away from her, and made two or three 
skirmishes round the room, as if gone suddenly mad. 

" Ey con may nowt o' that," observed Jennet, laughing. 

All at once the cat bounded upon the chimney board, over 
which was placed a sampler, worked with the name " ALIZON." 

" Why Tib really seems to onderstond me, ey declare," observed 
Jennet, uneasily. " Ey should like to ask him a few more ques 
tions, if cy durst," she added, regarding with some distrust the 
animal, who now returned, and began rubbing against her as 
before. "Tib Tib!" 

The cat looked up, and mewed. 

" Protty Tib sweet Tib," continued the little girl, coaxingly. 
"Whot mun one do to be a witch like grandmother Demdike?" 

The cat again dashed twice or thrice madly round the room, 
and then stopping suddenly at the hearth, sprang up the chimney. 

" Ey'n frightened ye away ot onny rate," observed Jennet, 
laughing. " And yet it may mean summot," she added, reflect 
ing a little, " fo ey'n heerd say os how witches fly up chimleys o' 
broomsticks to attend their sabbaths. Ey should like to fly i' 
that manner, an change myself into another shape onny shape 
boh my own. Oh that ey could be os protty os Alizon ! Ey 
dunna knoa whot ey'd nah do to be like her!" 

Again the great black cat was beside her, rubbing against her, 
and purring. The child was a good deal startled, for she had not 
seen him return, and the door was shut, though he might have 
come in through the open window, only she had been looking that 
way all the time, and had never noticed him. Strange ! 

" Tib," said the child, patting him, " thou hasna answered my 
last question how is one to become a witch ?" 

As she made this inquiry the cat suddenly scratched her in the 
arm, so that the blood came. The little girl was a good deal 
frightened, as well as hurt, and, withdrawing her arm quickly, 
made a motion of striking the animal. But starting backwards, 
erecting his tail, and spitting, the cat assumed such a formidable 
appearance, that she did not dare to touch him, and she then 
perceived that some drops of blood stained her white sleeve, 
giving the spots a certain resemblance to the letters J. and D., 
her own initials. 



74 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

At this moment, when she was about to scream for help, though 
she knew no one was in the house, all having gone away with the 
May-day revellers, a small white dove flew in at the open window,, 
and skimming round the room, alighted near her. No sooner had 
the cat caught sight of this beautiful bird, than instead of pre 
paring to pounce upon it, as might have been expected, he in 
stantly abandoned his fierce attitude, and, uttering a sort of howl,, 
sprang up the chimney as before. But the child scarcely observed 
this, her attention being directed towards the bird, whose extreme 
beauty delighted her. It seemed quite tame too, and allowed 
itself to be touched, and even drawn towards her, without an 
effort to escape. Never, surely, was seen so beautiful a bird 
with such milkwhite feathers, such red legs, and such pretty 
yellow eyes, with crimson circles round them ! So thought the 
little girl, as she gazed at it, and pressed it to her bosom. In 
doing this, gentle and good thoughts came upon her, and she re- 
fleeted what a nice present this pretty bird would make to her 
sister Alizon on her return from the merry-making, and how 
pleased she should feel to give it to her. And then she thought 
of Alizon's constant kindness to her, and half reproached herself 
with the poor return she made for it, wondering she could enter 
tain any feelings of envy towards one so good and amiable. All 
this while the dove nestled in her bosom. 

While thus pondering, the little girl felt an unaccountable 
drowsiness steal over her, and presently afterwards dropped asleep, 
when she had a very strange dream. It seemed to her that there 
was a contest going on between two spirits, a good one and a bad,. 
the bad one being represented by the great black cat, and the 
good spirit by the white dove. What they were striving about 
she could not exactly tell, but she felt that the conflict had some 
relation to herself. The dove at first appeared to have but a poor 
chance against the claws of its sable adversary, but the sharp 
talons of the latter made no impression upon the white plumage 
of the bird, which now shone like silver armour, and in the end 
the cat fled, yelling as it darted off " Thou art victorious now,, 
but her soul shall yet be mine." 

Something awakened the little sleeper at the same moment, and 
she felt very much terrified at her dream, as she could not help 
thinking her own soul might be the one in jeopardy, and her first 
impulse was to see whether the white dove was safe. Yes, there 
it was still nestling in her bosom, with its head under its wing. 

Just then she was startled at hearing her own name pronounced 
by a hoarse voice, and, looking up, she beheld a tall young man 
standing at the window. He had a somewhat gipsy look, having 
a dark olive complexion, and fine black eyes, though set strangely 
in his head, like those of Jennet and her mother, coal black hair, 
and very prominent features, of a sullen and almost savage cast. 
His figure was gaunt but very muscular, his arms being extremely 



THE BLACK CAT AND THE WHITE DOVE. 75 

long, and his hands unusually large and bony personal advan 
tages, which made him a formidable antagonist in any rustic 
encounter, and in such he was frequently engaged, being of a 
very irascible temper, and turbulent disposition. He was clad in 
a holiday suit of dark-green serge, which fitted him well, and 
carried a nosegay in one hand, and a stout blackthorn cudgel in 
the other. This young man was James Device, son of Elizabeth, 
and some four or five years older than Alizon. He did not live 
with his mother in Wh alley, but in Pendle Forest, near his old 
relative, Mother Demdike, and had come over that morning to 
attend the wake. 

" Whot are ye abowt, Jennet?" inquired James Device, in 
tones naturally hoarse and deep, and which he took as little pains 
to soften, as he did to polish his manners, which were more than 
ordinarily rude and churlish. 

"Whot are ye abowt, ey sey, wench?" he repeated, "Why 
dunna ye go to t* green to see the morris-dancers foot it round 
t' May-pow ? Cum along wi' me." 

" Ey dunna want to go, Jem," replied the little girl. 

" Boh yo shan go, ey tell ey," rejoined her brother ; " ye shan 
see your sister dawnce. Ye con sit a whoam onny day ; boh May 
day cums ony wonst a year, an Alizon winna be Queen twice i' 
her life. Soh cum along wi' me, dereckly, or ey'n may ye." 

"Ey should like to see Alizon dance, an so ey win go wi' ye, 
Jem," replied Jennet, getting up, " otherwise your orders shouldna 
may me stir, ey con tell ye." 

As she came out, she found her brother whistling the blithe air 
of " Green Sleeves," cutting strange capers, in imitation of the 
morris-dancers, and whirling his cudgel over his head instead of 
a kerchief. The gaiety of the day seemed infectious, and to have 
seized even him. People stared to see Black Jem, or Surly Jem, 
as he was indifferently called, so joyous, and wondered what it 
could mean. He then fell to singing a snatch of a local ballad at 
that time in vogue in the neighbourhood : 

"If thou wi' nah my secret tell, 

Ne bruit abroad i' Whalley parish, 
And swear to keep my counsel well, 
Ey win declare my day of marriage.** 

"Cum along, lass," he cried stopping suddenly in his song, and 
snatching his sister's hand. " What han ye getten there, lapped 
upi' your kirtle, eh?" 

"A white dove," replied Jennet, determined not to tell him 
any thing about her strange dream. 

"A white dove!" echoed Jem. "Gi' it me, an ey'n wring its 
neck, an get it roasted for supper." 

" Ye shan do nah such thing, Jem," replied Jennet. " Ey mean 
to gi' it to Alizon." 



76 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Weel, weel, that's reet," rejoined Jem, blandly, "it'll may a 
protty offering. Let's look at it." 

" Nah, nah," said Jennet, pressing the bird gently to her bosom, 
" neaw one shan see it efore Alizon." 

" Cum along then," cried Jem, rather testily, and mending his 
pace, " or we'st be too late fo' t' round. Whoy yo'n scratted 
yourself," he added, noticing the red spots on her sleeve- 

" Han ey ?" she rejoined, evasively. " Oh nowey rekilect, it 
wos Tib did it." 

" Tib !" echoed Jem, gravely, and glancing uneasily at the 
marks. 

Meanwhile, on quitting the cottage, the May-day revellers had 
proceeded slowly towards the green, increasing the number of 
their followers at each little tenement they passed, and being wel 
comed every where with shouts and cheers. The hobby-horse 
curveted and capered ; the Fool fleered at the girls, and flouted 
the men, jesting with every one, and when failing in a point 
rapping the knuckles of his auditors ; Friar Tuck chucked the 
pretty girls under the chin, in defiance of their sweethearts, and 
stole a kiss from every buxom dame that stood in his way, and then 
snapped his fingers, or made a broad grimace at the husband ; the 
piper played, and the taborer rattled his tambourine ; the morris- 
dancers tossed their kerchiefs aloft ; and the bells of the rush- 
cart jingled merrily ; the men on the top being on a level with 
the roofs of the cottages, and the summits of the haystacks they 
passed, but in spite of their exalted position jesting with the crowd 
below. But in spite of these multiplied attractions, and in spite 
of the gambols of Fool and Horse, though the latter elicited pro 
digious laughter, the main attention was fixed on the May Queen, 
who tripped lightly along by the side of her faithful squire, Robin 
Hood, followed by the three bold foresters of Sherwood, and her 
usher. 

In this way they reached the green, where already a large crowd 
was collected to see them, and where in the midst of it, and above 
the heads of the assemblage, rose the lofty May-pole, with all its 
flowery garlands glittering in the sunshine, and its ribands flutter 
ing in the breeze. Pleasant was it to see those cheerful groups, 
composed of happy rustics, youths in their holiday attire, and 
maidens neatly habited too, and fresh and bright as the day itself. 
Summer sunshine sparkled in their eyes, and weather and circum 
stance as well as genial natures disposed them to enjoyment. 
Every lass above eighteen had her sweetheart, and old couples 
nodded and smiled at each other when any tender speech, broadly 
conveyed but tenderly conceived, reached their ears, and said it 
recalled the days of their youth. Pleasant was it to hear such 
honest laughter, and such good homely jests. 

Laugh on, my merry lads, you are made of good old English 
stuff, loyal to church and king, and while you, and such as you, 



THE ASSHETONS. 77 

last, our land will be in no danger from foreign foe ! Laugh on, 
and praise your sweethearts how you will. Laugh on, and bless 
ings on your honest hearts ! 

"The frolic train had just reached the precincts of the green, 
when the usher waving his wand aloft, called a momentary halt, 
announcing that Sir Ralph Assheton and the gentry were coming 
forth from the Abbey gate to meet them. 



CHAPTER III. THE ASSHETONS. 

BETWEEN Sir Ralph Assheton of the Abbey and the inhabitants 
of Whalley, many of whom were his tenants, he being joint lord 
of the manor with John Braddyll of Portfield, the best possible 
feeling subsisted ; for though some ^vhat austere in manner, and 
tinctured with Puritanism, the woi.hy knight was sufficiently 
shrewd, or, more correctly speaking, sufficiently liberal-minded, to 
be tolerant of the opinions of others, and being moreover sincere 
in his own religious views, no man could call him in question for 
them ; besides which, he was very hospitable to his friends, very 
bountiful to the poor, a good landlord, and a humane man. His 
very austerity of manner, tempered by stately courtesy, added to 
the respect he inspired, especially as he could now and then relax 
into gaiety, and, when he did so, his smile was accounted singularly 
sweet. But in general he was grave and formal ; stiff in attire, 
and stiff in gait ; cold and punctilious in manner, precise in speech, 
and exacting in due respect from both high and low, which was 
seldom ' ever, refused him. Amongst Sir Ralph's other good 
qualities, for such it was esteemed by his friends and retainers, 
and they were, of course, the best judges, was a strong love of the 
chase, and perhaps he indulged a little too freely in the sports cf 
the field, for a gentleman of a character so staid and decorous ; 
but his popularity was far from being diminished by the circum 
stance ; neither did he suffer the rude and boisterous companion 
ship into which he was brought by indulgence in this his favourite 
pursuit in any way to affect him. Though still young, Sir Ralph 
was prematurely grey, and this, combined with the sad severity of 
his aspect, gave him the air of one considerably past the middle 
term of life, though this appearance was contradicted again by the 
youthful fire of his eagle eye. His features were handsome and 
strongly marked, and he wore a pointed beard and mustaches, 
with a shaved cheek. Sir Ralph Assheton had married twice, 
his first wife being a daughter of Sir James Bellingham of Levens, 
in Northumberland, by whom he had two children; while his 
second choice fell upon Eleanor Shuttleworth, the lovely and well- 
endowed heiress of Gawthorpe, to whom he had been recently 
united. In his attire, even when habited for the chase or a merry- 



78 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

making, like the present, the Knight of Whalley affected a sombre 
colour, and ordinarily wore a quilted doublet of black silk, immense 
trunk hose of the same material, stiffened with whalebone, puffed 
out well-wadded sleeves, falling bands, for he eschewed the ruff 
.as savouring of vanity, boots of black flexible leather, ascending 
to the hose, and armed with spurs with gigantic rowels, a round- 
crowned small-brimmed black hat, with an ostrich feather placed 
in the side and hanging over the top, a long rapier on his x hip, and 
a dagger in his girdle. This buckram attire, it will be easily 
conceived, contributed no little to the natural stiffness of his thin 
tall figure. 

Sir Ralph Assheton was great grandson of Richard Assheton, 
who flourished in the time of Abbot Paslew, and who, in conjunc 
tion with John Braddyll, fourteen years after the unfortunate 
prelate's attainder and the dissolution of the monastery, had 
purchased the abbey and domains of Whalley from the Crown, sub 
sequently to which, a division of the property so granted took place 
between them, the abbey and part of the manor falling to the share 
of Richard Assheton, whose descendants had now for three gene 
rations made it their residence. Thus the whole of Whalley 
belonged to the families of Assheton and Braddyll, which had in 
termarried; the latter, as has been stated, dwelling at Portfield, a 
fine old seat in the neighbourhood. 

A very different person from Sir Ralph was his cousin, Nicholas 
Assheton of Downham, who, except as regards his Puritanism, 
might be considered a type of the Lancashire squire of the day. A 
precisian in religious notions, and constant in attendance at church 
and lecture, he put no sort of restraint upon himself, but mixed up 
fox-hunting, otter-hunting, shooting at the mark, and perhaps 
shooting with the long-bow, foot-racing, horse-racing, and, in fact, 
every other kind of country diversion, not forgetting tippling, cards, 
and dicing, with daily devotion, discourses, and psalm-singing in 
the oddest way imaginable. A thorough sportsman was Squire 
Nicholas Assheton, well versed in all the arts and mysteries of 
hawking and hunting. Not a man in the county could ride harder, 
hunt deer, unkennel fox, unearth badger, or spear otter, better than 
he. And then, as to tippling, he would sit you a whole afternoon 
at the alehouse, and be the merriest man there, and drink a bout 
with every farmer present. And if the parson chanced to be out 
of hearing, he would never makeamouth at a round oath, nor choose 
a second expression when the first would serve his turn. Then, who 
so constant at church or lecture as Squire Nicholas though he 
did snore sometimes during the long sermons of his cousin, the 
Rector of Middleton I A great man was he at all weddings, christen 
ings, churchings, and funerals, and never neglected his bottle at 
these ceremonies, nor any sport in doors or out of doors, meanwhile. 
In short, such a roystering Puritan was never known. A good- 
looking young man was the Squire of Downham, possessed of a very 



THE ASSHETONS. 79 

athletic frame, and a most vigorous constitution, which helped him, 
together with the prodigious exercise he took, through any excess. 
He had a sanguine complexion, with a broad, good-natured visage, 
which he could lengthen at will in a surprising manner. His hair 
was cropped close to his head, and the razor did daily duty over 
his cheek and chin, giving him the roundhead look, some years 
later, characteristic of the Puritanical party. Nicholas had taken 
to wife Dorothy, daughter of Richard Greenacres of Worston, and 
was most fortunate in his choice, which is more than can be said 
for his lady, for I cannot uphold the squire as a model of conjugal 
fidelity, Report affirmed that he loved more than one pretty girl 
under the rose. Squire Nicholas was not particular as to the quality 
or make of his clothes, provided they wore well and protected him 
against the weather, and was generally to be seen in doublet and 
hose of stout fustian, which had seen some service, with a broad- 
leaved hat, originally green, but of late bleached to a much lighter 
colour ; but he was clad on this particular occasion in ash-coloured 
habiliments fresh from the tailor's hands, with buff boots drawn 
up to the knee, and a new round hat from York with a green feather 
in it. His legs were slightly embowed, and he bore himself like a 
man rarely out of the saddle. 

Downham, the residence of the squire, was a fine old house, very 
charmingly situated to the north of Pendle Hill, of which it com 
manded a magnificent view, and a few miles from Clithero. The 
f rounds about it were well-wooded and beautifully broken and 
iversified, watered by the Ribble, and opening upon the lovely 
and extensive valley deriving its name from that stream. The 
house was in good order and well maintained, and the stables plen 
tifully furnished with horses, while the hall was adorned with various 
trophies and implements of the chase ; but as I propose paying its 
owner a visit, I shall defer any further description of the place till 
an opportunity arrives for examining it in detail. 

A third cousin of Sir Ralph's, though in the second degree, 
likewise present on the May-day in question, was the Reverend 
Abdias Assheton, Rector of Middleton, a very worthy man, who, 
though differing from his kinsmen upon some religious points, and 
not altogether approving of the conduct of one of them, was on good 
terms with both. The Rector of Middleton was portly and mid 
dle-aged, fond of ease asd reading, and by no means indifferent 
to the good things of life. He was unmarried, and passed much 
of his time at Middleton Hall, the seat of his near relative Sir 
Richard Assheton, to whose family he was greatly attached, and 
whose residence closely adjoined the rectory. 

A fourth cousin, also present, was young Richard Assheton of 
Middleton, eldest son and heir of the owner of that estate. Possess 
ed of all the good qualities largely distributed among his kinsmen, 
with none of their drawbacks, this young man was as tolerant and 
bountiful as Sir Ralph, without his austerity and sectarianism ; as 



#0 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

keen a sportsman and as bold a rider as Nicholas, without hia pro 
pensities to excess; as studious, at times, and as well read as Abdias, 
without his laziness and self-indulgence; and as courtly and well- 
bred as his father, Sir Richard, who was esteemed one of the most 
perfect gentlemen in the county, without his haughtiness. Then 
he was the handsomest of his race, though the Asshetons were 
accounted the handsomest family in Lancashire, and no one minded 
yielding the palm to young Richard, even if it could be contested, 
he was so modest and unassuming. At this time, Richard Asshe- 
ton was about two-and-twenty, tall, gracefully and slightly formed, 
but possessed of such remarkable vigour, that even his cousin Ni 
cholas could scarcely compete with him in athletic exercises. His 
features were fine and regular, with an almost Phrygian precision 
of outline ; his hair was of a dark brown, and fell in clustering 
curls over his brow and neck ; and his complexion was fresh and 
blooming, and set off by a slight beard and mustache , carefully 
trimmed and pointed. His dress consisted of a dark-green doublet, 
with wide velvet hose, embroidered and fringed, descending nearly 
to the knee, where they were tied with points and ribands, met by 
dark stockings, and terminated by red velvet shoes with roses in 
them. A white feather adorned his black broad-leaved hat, and 
he had a rapier by his side. 

Amongst Sir Ralph Assheton's guests were Richard Greenacres, 
of Worston, Nicholas Assheton's father-in-law ; Richard Sherborne 
of Dunnow, near Sladeburne, who had married Dorothy, Nicholas's 
sister; Mistress Robinson of Raydale House, aunt to the knight 
and the squire, and two of her sons, both stout youths, with John 
Braddyll and his wife, of Portfield. Besides these there was Mas 
ter Roger Nowell, a justice of the peace in the county, and a very 
active and busy one too, who had been invited for an especial 
purpose, to be explained hereafter. Head of an ancient Lancashire 
family, residing at Read, a fine old hall, some little distance from 
VVhaUey, Roger Nowell, though a worthy, well-meaning man, dealt 
hard measure from the bench, and seldom tempered justice with 
mercy. He was sharp-featured, dry, and sarcastic, and being ad 
verse to country sports, his presence on the occasion was the only 
thing likely to impose restraint on the revellers. Other guests 
there were, but none of particular note. 

The ladies of the party consisted of Lady Assheton, Mistress 
Nicholas Assheton of Downham, Dorothy Assheton of M,iddleton, 
mister to Richard, a lovely girl of eighteen, with light fleecy hair, 
summer blue eyes, and a complexion of exquisite purity, Mistress 
Sherborne of Dunnow, Mistress Robinson of Raydale, and Mis 
tress Braddyll of Portfield, before mentioned, together with the 
wives and daughters of some others of the neighbouring gentry ; 
most noticeable amongst whom was Mistress Alice Nutter of 
Rough Lee, in Pendle Forest, a widow lady and a relative of the 
Assheton family. 



THE ASSHETONS. 81 

Mistress Nutter might be a year or two turned of forty, but 
she still retained a very fine figure, and much beauty of feature, 
thorgh of a cold and disagreeable cast. She was dressed in 
mourning, L ho;igh her husband had been dead several years, and 
her rich dark habiliments well became her pale complexion and 
raven hair. A proud poor gentleman was Richard Nutter, her 
late husband, and his scanty means not enabling him to keep up 
as large an establishment as he desired, or to be as hospitable as 
his nature prompted, his temper became soured, and he visited 
his ill humours upon his wife, who, devotedly attached to him, 
to all outward appearance at least, never resented his ill treat 
ment. All at once, and without any previous symptoms of 
ailment, or apparent cause, unless it might be over-fatigue in 
hunting the day before, Richard Nutter was seized with a strange 
and violent illness, which, after three or four days of acute suffer 
ing, brought him to the grave. During his illness he was con 
stantly and zealously tended by his wife, but he displayed great 
aversion to her, declaring himself bewitched, and that an old 
woman was ever in the corner of his room mumbling wicked en 
chantments against him. But as no such old woman could be 
seen, these assertions were treated as delirious ravings. They 
were not, however, forgotten after his death, and some people 
said that he had certainly been bewitched, and that a waxen 
image made in his likeness, and stuck full of pins, had been 
picked up in his chamber by Mistress Alice and cast into the fire, 
and as soon as it melted he had expired. Such tales only ob 
tained credence with the common folk; but as Pendle Forest was 
a sort of weird region, many reputed witches dwelling in it, they 
were the more readily believed, even by those who acquitted 
Mistress Nutter of all share in the dark transaction. 

Mistress Nutter gave the best proof that she respected her 
husband's memory by not marrying again, and she continued to 
lead a very secluded life at Rough Lee, a lonesome house in the 
heart of the forest. She lived quite by herself, for she had no 
children, her only daughter having perished somewhat strangely 
when quite an infant. Though a relative of the Asshetons, she 
kept up little intimacy with them, and it was a matter of surprise 
to all that she had been drawn from her seclusion to attend the 
present revel. 1 ler motive, however, in visiting the Abbey, was 
to obtain the assistance of Sir Ralph Assheton, in settling a dis 
pute between her and Roger Nowell, relative to the boundary line 
of part of their properties which came together ; and this was the 
reason why the magistrate had been invited to Whalley. After 
hearing both sides of the question, and examining plans of the 
estates, which he knew to be accurate, Sir Ralph, who had been 
appointed umpire, pronounced a decision in favour of Roger 
Noweli, but Mistress Nutter refusing to abide by it, the settle 
ment of the matter was postponed till the day but one following. 

G 



82 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

between which time the landmarks were to be investigated by a 
certain little lawyer named Potts, who attended on behalf of Roger 
Nowell ; together with Nicholas and Richard Assheton, on behalf 
of Mistress Nutter. Upon their evidence it was agreed by both 
parties that Sir Ralph should pronounce a final decision, to be 
accepted by them, and to that effect they signed an agreement. 
The three persons appointed to the investigation settled to start 
for Rough Lee early on the following morning. 

A word as to Master Thomas Potts. This worthy was an 
attorney from London, who had officiated as clerk of the court at 
the assizes at Lancaster, where his quickness had so much pleased 
Roger Nowell, that he sent for him to Read to manage this par 
ticular business A sharp-witted fellow was Potts, and versed in 
all the quirks and tricks of a very subtle profession not over 
scrupulous, provided a client would pay well ; prepared to resort 
to any expedient to gain his object, and quite conversant enough 
with both practice and precedent to keep himself straight. A 
bustling, consequential little personage was he, moreover ; very 
fond of delivering an opinion, even when unasked, and of a med 
dling, make-mischief turn, constantly setting men by the ears. 
A suit of rusty black, a parchment-coloured skin, small wizen 
features, a turn-up nose, scant eyebrows, and a great yellow 
forehead, constituted his external man. He partook of the 
hospitality at the Abbey, but had his quarters at the Dragon. He 
it Was who counselled Roger Nowell to abide by the decision of 
Sir Ralph, confidently assuring him that he must carry his 
point. 

This dispute was not, however, the only one the knight had to 
adjust, or in which Master Potts was concerned. A claim had 
recently been made by a certain Sir Thomas Metcalfe of Nappay, 
in Wensleydale, near Bainbridge, to the house and manor of Ray- 
dale, belonging to his neighbour, John Robinson, whose lady, as 
has been shown, was a relative of the Asshetons. Robinson him 
self had gone to London to obtain advice on the subject, while 
Sir Thomas Metcalfe, who was a man of violent disposition, had 
threatened to take forcible possession of Ray dale, if it were not 
delivered to him without delay, and to eject the Robinson family. 
Having consulted Potts, however, on the subject, whom he had 
met at Read, the latter strongly dissuaded him from the course, 
and recommended him to call to his aid the strong arm of the 
law : but this he rejected, though he ultimately agreed to refer 
the matter to Sir Ralph Assheton, and for this purpose he had 
come over to Whalley, and was at present a guest at the vicarage. 
Thus it will be seen that Sir Ralph Assheton had his hands full, 
while the little London lawyer, Master Potts, was tolerably well 
occupied. Besides Sir Thomas Metcalfe, Sir Richard Molyneux, 
and Mr. Parker of Browsholme, were guests of Dr. Onnerod at 
the vicarage. 



THE ASSHETONS. 83 

Such was the large company assembled to witness the May 
day revels at Whalley, and if harmonious feelings did not exist 
amongst all of them, little outward manifestation was made of 
enmity. The dresses and appointments of the pageant having 
been provided by Sir Ralph Assheton, who, Puritan as he was, 
encouraged all harmless country pastimes, it was deemed neces 
sary to pay him every respect, even if no other feeling would 
have prompted the attention, and therefore the troop had stopped 
on seeing him and his guests issue from the Abbey gate. At 
pretty nearly the same time Doctor Ormerod and his party came 
from the vicarage towards the green. 

No order of march was observed, but Sir Ralph and his lady, 
with two of his children by the former marriage, walked first. 
Then came some of the other ladies, with the Rector of Middle- 
ton, John JBraddyll, and the two sons of Mistress Robinson. 
Next came Mistress Nutter, Roger Nowell and Potts walking 
after her, eyeing her maliciously, as her proud figure swept on 
before them. Even if she saw their looks or overheard their 
jeers, she did not deign to notice them. Lastly came young 
Richard Assheton, of Middleton, and Squire Nicholas, both in 
high spirits, and laughing and chatting together. 

" A brave day for the morris-dancers, cousin Dick," observed 
Nicholas Assheton, as they approached the green, " and plenty 
of folk to witness the sport. Half my lads from Downham are 
here, and I see a good many of your Middleton chaps among 
them. How are you, Farmer Tetlow?" he added to a stout, 
hale-looking man, with a blooming country woman by his side 
u brought your pretty young wife to the rush-bearing, I see." 

" Yeigh, squoire," rejoined the farmer, " an mightily pleased 
hoo be wi' it, too." 

" Happy to hear it, Master Tetlow," replied Nicholas, " she'll 
be better pleased before the day's over, I'll warrant her. I'll dance 
a round with her myself in the hall at night." 

' Theere now, Meg, whoy dunna ye may t' squoire a curtsy, 
wench, an thonk him," said Tetlow, nudging his pretty wife, who 
had turned away, rather embarrassed by the free gaze of the 
squire. Nicholas, however, did not wait for the curtsy, but 
went away, laughing, to overtake Richard Assheton, who had 
walked on. 

"Ah, here's Frank Garside," he continued, espying another 
rustic acquaintance. " HaUoa, Frank, I'll come over one day next 
week, and try for a fox in Easington Woods. We missed the 
last, you know. Tom Brockholes, are you here ? Just ridden 
over from Sladeburne, eh ? When is that shooting match at the 
bodkin to come off, eh ? Mind, it is to be at twenty-two roods' 
distance. Ride over to Downham on Thursday next, Tom. 
We're to have a foot-race, and I'll show you good sport, and 
at night we'll have a lusty drinking bout at the alehouse. On 



84 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Friday, we'll take out the great nets, and try for salmon in the 
Kibble. I took some fine fish on Monday one salmon of ten 
pounds' weight, the largest I've got the whole season. I brought 
it with me to-day to the Abbey. There's an otter in the river, 
and I won't hunt him till you come, Tom. I shall see you on 
Thursday, eh?" 

Receiving an answer in the affirmative, squire Nicholas walked 
on, nodding right and left, jesting with the farmers, anoj, ogling 
their pretty wives and daughters. 

" I tell you what, cousin Dick," he said, calling after Richard 
Assheton, who had got in advance of him, " I'll match my dun 
nag against your grey gelding for twenty pieces, that I reach the 
boundary line of the Rough Lee lands before you to-morrow. 
What, you won't have it? You know I shall beat you ha! ha! 
Well, we'll try the speed of the two tits the first day we hunt the 
stag in Bowland Forest. Odds my life ! " he cried, suddenly 
altering his deportment and lengthening his visage, " if there isn't 
our parson here. Stay with me, cousin Dick, stay with me. 
Give you good-day, worthy Mr. Dewhurst," he added, taking off 
his hat to the divine, who respectfully returned his salutation, " I 
did not look to see your reverence here, taking part in these 
vanities and idle sports. I propose to call on you on Saturday, 
and pass an hour in serious discourse. I would call to-morrow,, 
fout I have to ride over to Pendle on business. Tarry a moment 
for me, I pray you, good cousin Richard. I fear, reverend sir, 
that you will see much here that will scandalise you; much 
lightness and indecorum. Pleasanter far would it be to me to see 
a large congregation of the elders flocking together to a godly 
meeting, than crowds assembled for such a profane purpose. 
Another moment, Richard. My cousin is a young man, Mr. 
Dewhurst, and wishes to join the revel. But we must make 
allowances, worthy and reverend sir, until the world shah 1 improve. 
An excellent discourse you gave us, good sir, on Sunday : viii. 
Rom. 12 and 13 verses : it is graven upon my memory, but I have 
made a note of it in my diary. I come to you, cousin, I come. 
I pray you walk on to the Abbey, good Mr. Dewhurst, where you 
will be right welcome, and call for any refreshment you may desire 
a glass of good sack, and a slice of venison pasty, on which we 
have just dined and there is some famous old ale, which I would 
commend to you, but that I know you care not, any more than 
myself, for creature comforts. Farewell, reverend sir. I will join 
you ere long, for these scenes have little attraction for me. But 
I must take care that my young cousin falleth not into harm." 

And as the divine took his way to the Abbey, he added, 
laughingly, to Richard, " A good riddance, Dick. I would not 
have the old fellow play the spy upon us. Ah, Giles Mercer," 
he added, stopping again, "and Jeff Rushton well met, lads! 
what, are you come to the wake? I shall be at John Lawe's in 



THE ASSHETONS. 85 

the evening, and we'll have a glass together John brews sack 
rarely, and spareth not the eggs." 

" Boh yo'n be at th' dawncing at th' Abbey, squoire," said one 
of the farmers. 

u Curse the dancing!" cried Nicholas "I hope the parson 
didn't hear me," he added, turning round quickly. " Well, well, 
I'll come down when the dancing's over, and we'll make a night 
of it." And he ran on to overtake Richard Assheton. 

By this time the respective parties from the Abbey and the 
Vicarage having united, they walked on together, Sir Ralph 
Assheton, after courteously exchanging salutations with Dr. 
Ormerod's guests, still keeping a little in advance of the company. 
Sir Thomas Metcalfe comported himself with more than his wonted 
haughtiness, and bowed so superciliously to Mistress Robinson, 
that her two sons glanced angrily at each other, as if in doubt 
whether they should not instantly resent the affront. Observing 
this, as well as what had previously taken place, Nicholas Assheton 
stepped quickly up to them, and said 

" Keep quiet, lads. Leave this dunghill cock to me, and I'll 
lower his crest." 

With this he pushed forward, and elbowing Sir Thomas rudely 
out of the way, turned round, and, instead of apologising, eyed him 
coolly and contemptuously from head to foot. 

" Are you drunk, sir, that you forget your manners ? " asked 
Sir Thomas, laying his hand upon his sword. 

" Not so drunk but that I know how to conduct myself like a 
gentleman, Sir Thomas," rejoined Nicholas, " which is more than 
can be said for a certain person of my acquaintance, who, for 
aught I know, has only taken his morning pint." 

" You wish to pick a quarrel with me, Master Nicholas 
Assheton, I perceive," said Sir Thomas, stepping close up to him, 
te and I will not disappoint you. You shall render me good 
reason for this affront before I leave Whalley." 

is When and where you please, Sir Thomas," rejoined Nicholas, 
laughing. " At any hour, and at any weapon, I am your man." 

" At this moment, Master Potts, who had scented a quarrel 
afar, and who would have liked it well enough if its prosecution 
had not run counter to his own interests, quitted Roger Nowell, 
and ran back to Metcalfe, and plucking him by the sleeve, said, 
in a low voice 

" This is not the way to obtain quiet possession of Raydale 
House, Sir Thomas. Master Nicholas Assheton," he added, 
turning to him, " I must entreat you, my good sir, to be moderate. 
Gentlemen, both, I caution you that I have my eye upon you. 
You well know there is a magistrate here, my singular good friend 
and honoured client, Master Roger Nowell, and if you pursue this 
quarrel further, I shall hold it my duty to have you bound over by 
that worthy gentleman in sufficient securities to keep the peace 



86 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

towards our sovereign lord the king and all his lieges, and 
particularly towards each other. You understand me, gentlemen ? " 

u Perfectly," replied Nicholas. u I drink at John Lawe's to 
night, Sir Thomas." 

So saying, he walked away. Metcalfe would have followed 
him, but was withheld by Potts. 

" Let him go, Sir Thomas," said the little man of law ; " let 
him go. Once master of Raydale, you can do as you please. 
Leave the settlement of the matter to me. I'll just whisper a 
word in Sir Ralph Assheton's ear, and you'll hear no more of it." 

v ' Fire and fury ! " growled Sir Thomas. " I like not this mode 
of settling a quarrel ; and unless this hot-headed psalm-singing 
puritan apologises, I shall assuredly cut his throat." 

" Or he yours, good Sir Thomas," rejoined Potts. " Better 
sit in Ray dale Hall, than lie in the Abbey vaults." 

" Well, we'll talk over the matter, Master Potts," replied the 
knight. 

" A nice morning's work I've made of it," mused Nicholas, as 
he walked along ; " here I have a dance with a farmer's pretty 
wife, a discourse with a parson, a drinking-bout with a couple of 
clowns, and a duello with a blustering knight on my hands. 
Quite enough, o' my conscience ! but I must get through it the 
best way I can. And now, hey for the May -pole and the morris- 
dancers ! " 

Nicholas just got up in time to witness the presentation oi" the 
May Queen to Sir Ralph Assheton and his lady, and like every 
one else he was greatly struck by her extreme beauty and natural 
grace. 

The little ceremony was thus conducted. When the company 
from the Abbey drew near the troop of revellers, the usher taking 
Alizon's hand in the tips of his fingers as before, strutted forward 
with her to Sir Ralph and his lady, and falling upon one knee 
before them, said, " Most worshipful and honoured knight, and 
you his lovely dame, and you the tender and cherished olive 
branches growing round about their tables, I hereby crave your 
gracious permission to present unto your honours our chosen 
Queen of May." 

Somewhat fluttered by the presentation, Alizon yet maintained 
sufficient composure to bend gracefully before Lady Assheton, and 
say in a very sweet voice, " I fear your ladyship will think the 
choice of the village hath fallen ill in alighting upon me ; and, 
indeed, I feel myself altogether unworthy the distinction ; never* 
theless I will endeavour to discharge my office fittingly, and 
therefore pray you, fair lady, and the worshipful knight, your 
husband, together with your beauteous children, and the gentles 
all by whom you are surrounded, to grace our little festiral with 
your presence, hoping you may find as much pleasure in the sight 
as we shall do in offering it to you." 



THE ASSHETONS. 87 

" A fair maid, and inodest as she is fair," observed Sir Ralph, 
with a condescending smile. 

" In sooth is she," replied Lady Assheton, raising her kindly, 
and saying, as she did so 

" Nay, you must not kneel to us, sweet maid. You are queen 
of May, and it is for us to show respect to you during your day 
of sovereignty. Your wishes are commands ; and, in behalf of 
my husband, my children, and our guests, I answer, that we will 
gladly attend your revels on the green." 

" Well said, dear Nell," observed Sir Ralph. " We should be 
churlish, indeed, were we to refuse the bidding of so lovely a 
queen." 

te Nay, you have called the roses in earnest to her cheek, now, 
Sir Ralph," observed Lady Assheton, smiling. " Lead on, fair 
queen," she continued, " and tell your companions to begin their 
sports when they please. Only remember this, that we shall hope 
to see all your gay troop this evening at the Abbey, to a merry 
dance." 

" Where I will strive to find her majesty a suitable partner," 
added Sir Ralph. " Stay, she shall make her choice now, as a 
royal personage should *, for you know, Nell, a queen ever chooseth 
her partner, whether it be for the throne or for the brawl. How 
say you, fair one f Shall it be either of our young cousins, Joe 
or Will Robinson of Ray dale ; or our cousin who still thinketh 
himself young, Squire Nicholas of Downham." 

" Ay, let it be me, I implore of you, fair queen," interposed 
Nicholas. 

" He is engaged already," observed Richard Assheton, coming 
forward. " I heard him ask pretty Mistress Tetlow, the farmer's 
wife, to dance with him this evening at the Abbey." 

A loud laugh from those around followed this piece of informa 
tion, but Nicholas was in no wise disconcerted. 

" Dick would have her choose him, and that is why he inter 
feres with me," he observed. " How say you, fair queen ! Shall 
it be our hopeful cousin ? I will answer for him that he danceth 
the coranto and lavolta indifferently well." 

On hearing Richard Assheton' s voice, all the colour had for 
saken Alizon's cheeks; but at this direct appeal to her by Nicholas, 
it returned with additional force, and the change did not escape 
the quick eye of Lady Assheton. 

" You perplex her, cousin Nicholas," she said. 

" Not a whit, Eleanor," answered the squire ; " but if she like 
not Dick Assheton, there is another Dick, Dick Sherburne of 
Sladeburn; or our cousin, Jack Braddyll; or, if she prefer an 
older and discreeter man, there is Father Greenacres of Worsten, 
or Master Roger Nowell of Read plenty of choice." 

" Nay, if I must choose a partner, it shall be a young one," said 
Alizon. 



88 THE LANCASHIRE WITCH KS. 

" Right, fair queen, right," cried Nicholas, laughing. " Ever 
choose a young man if you can. Who shall it be 1 " 

" You have named him yourself, sir," replied Alizon, in a voice 
which she endeavoured to keep firm, but which, in spite of all her 
efforts, sounded tremulously " Master Richard Assheton." 

" Next to choosing me, you could not have chosen better," 
observed Nicholas, approvingly. " Dick, lad, I congratulate 
thee." 

" I congratulate myself," replied the young man. " Fair 
queen," he added, advancing, " highly flattered am 1 by your 
choice, and shall so demean myself, I trust, as to prove myself 
worthy of it. Before I go, I would beg a boon from you that 
flower." 

" This pink," cried Alizon. " It is yours, fair sir." 

Young Assheton took the flower and took the hand that offered 
it at the same time, and pressed the latter to his lips ; while Lady 
Assheton, who had been made a little uneasy by Alizon's apparent 
emotion, and who with true feminine tact immediately detected 
its cause, called out : " Now, forward forward to the May-pole ! 
We have interrupted the revel too long." 

Upon this the May Queen stepped blushingly back with the 
usher, who, with his white wand in hand, had stood bolt upright 
behind her, immensely delighted with the scene in which his 
pupil for Alizon had been tutored by him for the occasion had 
taken part. Sir Ralph then clapped his hands loudly, and at this 
signal the tabor and pipe struck up ; the Fool and the Hobby 
horse, who, though idle all the time, had indulged in a little quiet 
fun with the rustics, recommenced their gambols; the Morris- 
dancers their lively dance ; and the whole train moved towards 
the May-pole, followed by the rush-cart, with all its bells jingling, 
and all its garlands waving. 

As to Alizon. her brain was in a whirl, and her bosom heaved 
so quickly, that she thought she should faint. To think that the 
choice of a partner in the dance at the Abbey had been offered her, 
and that she should venture to choose Master Richard Assheton ! 
She could scarcely credit her own temerity. And then to think 
that she should give him a flower, and, more than all, that he 
should kiss her hand in return for it! She felt the tingling 
pressure of his lips upon her finger still, and her little heart 
palpitated strangely. 

As she approached the May-pole, and the troop again halted 
for a few minutes, she saw her brother James holding little Jennet 
by the hand, standing in the front line to look at her. 

" Oh, how I'm glad to see you here, Jennet !" she cried. 

" An ey'm glad to see yo, Alizon," replied the little girl. " Jeir 
has towd me whot a grand partner you're to ha' this e'en." And, 
she added, with playful malice, " Who was wrong whon she said 
the queen could choose Master Richard " 



THE ASSHETONS. 89 

" Hush, Jennet, not a word more," interrupted Alizon, blushing. 

"Oh! ey dunna mean to vex ye, ey'm sure," replied Jennet. 
" Ey've got a present for ye." 

" A present for me, Jennet," cried Alizon ; " what is it?" 

A beautiful white dove," replied the little girl. 

" A white dove ! Where did you get it ? Let me see it," cried 
Alizon, in a breath. 

" Here it is," replied Jennet, opening her kirtle. 

(t A beautiful bird, indeed," cried Alizon. " Take care of it for 
me till I come home." 

" Which winna be till late, ey fancy," rejoined Jennet, roguishly. 
" Ah !" she added, utterin r a cry. 

The latter exclamation was occasioned by the sudden flight of 
the dove, which, escaping from her hold, soared aloft. Jennet 
followed the course of its silver wings, as they cleaved the blue 
sky, and then all at once saw a large hawk, which apparently had 
been hovering about, swoop down upon it, and bear it off. Some 
white feathers fell down near the little girl, and she picked up one 
of them and put it in her breast. 

" Poor bird !" exclaimed the May Queen. 

" Eigh, poor bird !" echoed Jennet, tearfully. " Ah, ye dunna 
knoa aw, Alizon." 

" Weel. there's neaw use whimpering abowt a duv," observed 
Jem, gruffly. " Ey'n bring ye another t' furst time ey go to 
Gown." 

"There's nah another bird like that," sobbed the little girl. 
u Shoot that cruel hawk fo' me, Jem, win ye." 

" How conney wench, whon its flown away?" he replied. "Boh 
ey'n rob a hawk's neest fo ye, if that'll do os weel." 

" Yo dunna understand me, Jem," replied the child, sadly. 

At this moment, the music, which had ceased while some 
arrangements were made, commenced a very lively tune, known 
as " Round about the May-pole," and Robin Hood, taking the 
May Queen's hand, led her towards the pole, and placing her near 
it, the whole of her attendants took hands, while a second circle 
was formed by the morris-dancers, and both began to wheel 
rapidly round her, the music momently increasing in spirit and 
quickness. An irresistible desire to join in the measure seized 
some of the lads and lasses around, and they likewise took hands, 
and presently a third and still wider circle was formed, wheeling 
gaily round the other two. Other dances were formed here and 
there, and presently the whole green was in movement. 

" If you come off heart-whole to-night, Dick, I shall be sur 
prised," observed Nicholas, who with his young relative had 
approached as near the May-pole as the three rounds of dancers 
would allow them. 

Richard Assheton made no reply, but glanced at the pink which 
he had placed in his doublet. 



90 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

"Who is the May Queen?" inquired Sir Thomas Metcalfe, 
who had likewise drawn near, of a tall man holding a little girl 
by the hand. 

" Alizon, dowter of Elizabeth Device, an mey sister," replied 
James Device, gruffly. 

" Humph !" muttered Sir Thomas, " she is a well-looking lass. 
And she dwells here in Whalley, fellow f " he added. 

" Hoo dwells i' Whalley," responded Jem, sullenly. 

" I can easily find her abode," muttered the knight, walking 
away. 

" What was it Sir Thomas said to you, Jem?" inquired 
Nicholas, who had watched the knight's gestures, coming up. 

Jem related what had passed between them. 

"What the devil does he want with her?" cried Nicholas. 
" No good, I'm sure. But I'll spoil his sport." 

" Say boh t' word, squoire, an ey'n break every boan i' his 
body," remarked Jem. 

" No, no, Jem," replied Nicholas. " Take care of your pretty 
sister, and I'll take care of him." 

At this juncture, Sir Thomas, who, in spite of the efforts of the 
pacific Master Potts to tranquillise him, had been burning with 
wrath at the affront he had received from Nicholas, came up to 
Richard Assheton, and, noticing the pink in his bosom, snatched it 
away suddenly. 

" I want a flower," he said, smelling at it. 

" Instantly restore it, Sir Thomas P' cried Richard Assheton, 
pale with rage, "or " 

"What will you do, young sir?" rejoined the knight tauntingly,, 
and plucking the flower in pieces. "You can get another from the 
fair nymph who gave you this." 

Further speech was not allowed the knight, for he received a 
violent blow on the chest from the hand of Richard Assheton, which 
sent him reeling backwards, and would have felled him to the ground 
if he had not been caught by some of the bystanders. The mo 
ment he recovered, Sir Thomas drew his sword, and furiously as 
saulted young Assheton, who stood ready for him, and after the 
exchange of a few passes, for none of the bystanders dared to 
interfere, sent his sword whirling over their heads through the air. 

" Bravo, Dick," cried Nicholas, stepping up, and clapping his 
cousin on the back, u you have read him a good lesson, and taught 
him that he cannot always insult folks with impunity, ha ! ha ! " 
And he laughed loudly at the discomfited knight. 

" He is an insolent coward," said Richard Assheton. " Give him 
his sword and let him come on again." 

u No, no," said Nicholas, " he has had enough this time. And 
if he has not, he must settle an account with me. Put up your 
blade, lad." 

" I'll be revenged upon you both," said Sir Thomas, taking his 



NUTTER. 91 

sword, which had been brought him by a bystander, and stalking 
away. 

" You leave us in mortal dread, doughty knight," cried Nicholas, 
shouting after him, derisively " ha ! ha ! ha !" 

Richard Assheton's attention was, however, turned in a different 
direction, for the music suddenly ceasing, and the dancers stopping, 
he learnt that the May Queen had fainted, and presently after 
wards the crowd opened to give passage to Robin Hood, who bore 
her inanimate form in his arms. 



CHAPTER IV. ALICE NUTTER 

THE quarrel between Nicholas Assheton and Sir Thomas Met- 
calfe had already been made known to Sir Ralph by the officious 
Master Potts, and though it occasioned the knight much displeasure, 
as interfering with the amicable arrangement he hoped to effect 
with Sir Thomas for his relatives the Robinsons, still he felt sure 
that he had sufficient influence with his hot-headed cousin, the 
squire, to prevent the dispute from being carried further, and he 
only waited the conclusion of the sports on the green, to take him 
to task. What was the knight's surprise and annoyance, there 
fore, to find that a new brawl had sprung up, and, ignorant of its 
precise cause, he laid it entirely at the door of the turbulent Nicho 
las. Indeed, on the commencement of the fray he imagined that 
the squire was personally concerned in it, and full of wroth, flew 
to the scene of action ; but before he got there, the affair, which, 
as has been seen, was of short duration, was fully settled, and he 
only heard the jeers addressed to the retreating combatant by 
Nicholas. It was not Sir Ralph's way to vent his choler in words, 
but the squire knew in an instant, from the expression of his 
countenance, that he was greatly incensed, and therefore hastened 
to explain. 

te What means this unseemly disturbance, Nicholas f " cried Sir 
Ralph, not allowing the other to speak. rt You are ever brawling 
like an Alsatian squire. Independently of the ill example set to 
these good folk, who hava met here for tranquil amusement, you 
have counteracted all my plans for the adjustment of the differ 
ences between Sir Thomas Metcalfe and our aunt of Raydale. If 
you forget what is due to yourself, sir, do not forget what is due 
to me, and to the name you bear." 

" No one but yourself should say as much to me, Sir Ralph," 
rejoined Nicholas somewhat haughtily; a but you are under a mis 
apprehension. It is not I who have been fighting, though I should 
have acted in precisely the same manner as our cousin Dick, if I 
had received the same affront, and so I make bold to say would you. 
Our name shall suffer no discredit from me; and as a gentleman, 



92 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

I assert, that Sir Thomas Metcalfe has only received due chastise 
ment, as you yourself will admit, cousin, when you know all." 
" I know him to be overbearing," observed Sir Ralph. 
" Overbearing is not the word, cousin," interrupted Nicholas , 
" he is as proud as a peacock, and would trample upon us all, and 
gore us too, like one of the wild bulls of Rowland, if we wouid let 
him have his way. But I would treat him as I would the bull afore 
said, a wild boar, or any other savage and intractable beast, hunt 
him down, and poll his horns, or pluck out his tusks." 

"Come, come, Nicholas, this is no very gentle language," re 
marked Sir Ralph. 

" Why, to speak truth, cousin, I do not feel in any very gentle 
frame of mind," rejoined the squire; my ire has been roused by this 
insolent braggart, my blood is up, and I long to be doing." 

" Unchristian feelings, Nicholas," said Sir Ralph, severely, (t and 
should be overcome. Turn the other cheek to the smiter. I trust 
you bear no malice to Sir Thomas." 

" I bear him no malice, for I hope malice is not in my nature, 
cousin," replied Nicholas, " but I owe him a grudge, and when a 
fitting opportunity occurs " 

" No more of this, unless you would really incur my displeasure," 
rejoined Sir Ralph ; st the matter haS gone far enough, too far, per 
haps for amendment, and if you know it not, I can tell you that 
Sir Thomas's claims to Raydale will be difficult to dispute, and so 
our uncle Robinson has found since he hath taken counsel on the 
case." 

" Have a care, Sir Ralph," said Nicholas, noticing that Master 
Potts was approaching them, with his ears evidently wide open, 
" there is that little London lawyer hovering about. But I'll give 
the cunning fox a double. I'm glad to hear you say so, Sir Ralph," 
he added, in a tone calculated to reach Potts, " and since our 
uncle Robinson is so sure of his cause, it may be better to let this 
blustering knight be. Perchance, it is the certainty of failure 
that makes him so insensate. 

u This is meant to blind me, but it shall not serve your turn, 
cautelous squire," muttered Potts ; " I caught enough of what fell 
just now from Sir Ralph to satisfy me that he hath strong mis 
givings. But it is best not to appear too secure. Ah, Sir Ralph," 
he added, coming forward, " I was right, you see, in my caution. 
I am a man of peace, and strive to prevent quarrels and bloodshed. 
Quarrel if you please and unfortunately men are prone to anger 
but always settle your disputes in a court of law; always in a 
court of law, Sir Ralph. That is the only arena where a sensible 
man should ever fight. Take good advice, fee your counsel 
well, and the chances are ten to one in your favour. That is what 
I say to my worthy and singular good client, Sir Thomas ; but he 
is somewhat headstrong and vehement, and will not listen to me. 
He is for settling matters by the sword, for making forcible entries 



ALICE NUTTER. 93 

and detainers, and ousting the tenants in possession, whereby he 
would render himself liable to arrest, fine, ransom, and forfeiture ; 
instead of proceeding cautiously and decorously as the law directs, 
and as I advise, Sir Ralph, by writ of ejectione firuice or action of 
trespass, the which would assuredly establish his title, and restore 
him the house and lands. Or he may proceed by writ of right, 
which perhaps, in his case, considering the long absence of posses 
sion, and the doubts supposed to perplex the title though I myself 
have no doubts about it would be the most efficacious. These 
are your only true weapons, Sir Ralph your writs of entry, assise, 
and right your pleas of novel disseisin, post-disseisin, and re- 
disseisin your remitters, your prsecipes, your pones, and your 
recordari faciases. These are the sword, shield, and armour of 
proof of a wise man." 

" Zounds ! you take away one's breath with this hail-storm of 
writs and pleas, master lawyer!" cried Nicholas. "But in one 
respect I am of your ' worthy and singular good' client's, opinion, 
and would rather trust to my own hand for the defence of my 
property than to the law to keep it for me." 

" Then you would do wrong, good Master Nicholas," rejoined 
Potts, with a smile of supreme contempt ; " for the law is the 
better guardian and the stronger adversary of the two, and so Sir 
Thomas will find if he takes my advice, and obtains, as he can and 
will do, a perfect title juris et seisince conjunctiotiern" 

66 Sir Thomas is still willing to refer the case to rny arbitrement, 
I believe, sir?" demanded Sir Ralph, uneasily. 

" He was so, Sir Ralph," rejoined Potts, " unless the assaults 
and batteries, with intent to do him grievous corporeal hurt, 
which he hath sustained from your relatives, have induced a 
change of mind in him. But as I premised, Sir Ralph, I am a 
man of peace, and willing to intermediate." 

" Provided you get your fee, master lawyer," observed Nicholas, 
sarcastically. 

"Certainly, I object not to the quiddam honorarium, Master 
Nicholas," rejoined Potts ; " and if my client hath the quid pro 
quo, and gaineth his point, he cannot complain. But what is this ? 
Some fresh disturbance ! " 

u Something hath happened to the May Queen," cried 
Nicholas. 

" I trust not," said Sir Ralph, with real concern. " Ha ! she 
has fainted. They are bringing her this way. Poor maid ! what 
can have occasioned this sudden seizure ?" 

" I think I could give a guess," muttered Nicholas. " Better 
remove her to the Abbey," he added aloud to the knight. 

" You are right," said Sir Ralph. i( Our cousin Dick is near 
her, I observe. He shall see her conveyed there at once." 

At this moment Lady Assheton and Mrs. Nutter, with some 
of the other ladies, came up. 



04 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Just in time, Nell," cried the knight. " Have you your 
smelling-bottle about you ? The May Queen has fainted." 

" Indeed !" exclaimed Lady Assheton, springing towards 
Alizon, who was now sustained by young Richard Assheton ; the 
forester having surrendered her to him. " How has this hap 
pened ?" she inquired, giving her to breathe at a small phial. 

" That I cannot tell you, cousin," replied Richard Assheton, 
" unless from some sudden fright." 

" That was it, Master Richard," cried Robin Hood ; " she 
cried out on hearing the clashing of swords just now, and, I 
think, pronounced your name, on finding you engaged with Sir 
Thomas, and immediately after turned pale, and would have faUen 
if I had not caught her." 

" Ah, indeed !" exclaimed Lady Assheton, glancing at Richard, 
whose eyes fell before her inquiring gaze. " But see, she revives," 
pursued the lady. " Let me support her head." 

As she spoke Alizon opened her eyes, and perceiving Richard 
Assheton, who had relinquished her to his relative, standing 
beside her, she exclaimed, " Oh ! you are safe ! I feared" And 
then she stopped, greatly embarrassed. 

" You feared he might be in danger from his fierce adversary," 
supplied Lady Assheton ; "but no." The conflict is happily over, 
and he is unhurt." 

" I am glad of it," said Alizon, earnestly. 

" She had better be taken to the Abbey," remarked Sir Ralph, 
coming up, 

" Nay, she will be more at ease at home," observed Lady 
Assheton with a significant look, which, however, failed in reaching 
her husband. 

" Yes, truly shall I, gracious lady," replied Alizon, " far more 
so. I have given you trouble enough already." 

" No trouble at all," said Sir Ralph, kindly ; " her ladyship is 
too happy to be of service in a case like this. Are you not, Nell? 
The faintness will pass off presently. But let her go to the 
Abbey at once, and remain there till the evening's festivities, in 
which she takes part, commence. Give her your arm, Dick." 

Sir Ralph's word was law, and therefore Lady Assheton made 
no remonstrance. But she said quickly, " I will take care of her 
myself." 

" I require no assistance, madam," replied Alizon, " since Sir 
Ralph will have me go. Nay, you are too kind, too condescending," 
she added, reluctantly taking Lady Assheton's proffered arm. 

And in this way they proceeded slowly towards the Abbey, 
escorted by Richard Assheton, and attended by Mistress Braddyll 
and some others of the ladies. 

Amongst those who had watched the progress of the May 
Queen's restoration with most interest was Mistress Nutter, 
though she had not interfered ; and as Alizon departed with 



ALICE NUTTER. f>5 

Lady Assheton, she observed to Nicholas, who was standing 
near, 

" Can this be the daughter of Elizabeth Device, and grand 
daughter of " 

" Your old Pendle witch, Mother Demdike," supplied Nicholas ; 
" the very same, I assure you, Mistress Nutter." 

" She is wholly unlike the family," observed the lady, " and 
her features resemble some I have seen before." 

" She does not resemble her mother, undoubtedly," replied 
Nicholas, " though what her grand-dame may have been some 
sixty years ago, when she was Alizon's age, it would be difficult 
to say. She is no beauty now." 

" Those finely modelled features, that graceful figure, and those 
delicate hands, cannot surely belong to one lowly born and bred ? " 
said Mistress Nutter. 

" They differ from the ordinary peasant mould, truly, replied 
Nicholas. " If you ask me for the lineage of a steed, I can give 
a guess at it on sight of the animal, but as regards our own race 
I'm at fault, Mistress Nutter." 

" I must question Elizabeth Device about her," observed 
Alice. " Strange, I should never have seen her before, though I 
know the family so well." 

" I wish you did not know Mother Demdike quite so well, 
Mistress Nutter," remarked Nicholas " a mischievous and 
malignant old witch, who deserves the tar barrel. The only 
marvel is, that she has not been burned long ago. I am of 
opinion, with many others, that it was she who bewitched your 
poor husband, Richard Nutter." 

" I do not think it," replied Mistress Nutter, with a mournful 
shake of the head. " Alas, poor man ! he died from hard riding, 
after hard drinking. That was the only witchcraft in his case. 
Be warned by his fate yourself, Nicholas." 

u Hard riding after drinking was more likely to sober 
him than to kill him," rejoined the squire. " But, as I said just 
now, I like -not this Mother Demdike, nor her rival in iniquity, 
old Mother Chattox. The devil only knows which of the two is 
worst. But if the former hag did not bewitch your husband 
to death, as I shrewdly suspect, it is certain that the latter mum- 
bJing old miscreant killed my elder brother, Richard, by her 
sorceries." 

u Mother Chattox did you a good turn then, Nicholas," 
observed Mistress Nutter, " in making you master of the fair 
estates of Downham." 

u So far, perhaps, she might," rejoined Nicholas, " but I do not 
like the manner of it, and would gladly see her burned ; nay, I 
would fire the fagots myself." 

u You are superstitious as the rest, Nicholas," said Mistress Nut 
ter. " For n v part T do not believe in the existence of witches." 



96 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Not believe in witches, with these two living proofs to the 
contrary !" cried Nicholas, in amazement. " Why, Pendle 
Forest s warms with witches. They burrow in the hill-side like 
rabbits in a warren. They are the terror of the whole 
country. No man's cattle, goods, nor even life, are safe from 
them ; and the only reason why these two old hags, who hold 
sovereign sway over the others, have 'scaped justice so long, is 
because every one is afraid to go near them. Their solitary 
habitations are more strongly guarded than fortresses. Not 
believe in witches ! Why I should as soon misdoubt the Holy 
Scriptures." 

" It may be because I reside near them that I have so little 
apprehension, or rather no apprehension at all," replied Mistress 
Nutter ; " but to me Mother Demdike and Mother Chattox 
appear two harmless old women." 

" They're a couple of dangerous and damnable old hags, and 
deserve the stake," cried Nicholas, emphatically. 

All this discourse had been swallowed with greedy ears by the 
ever- vigilant Master Potts, who had approached the speakers 
un perceived ; and he now threw in a word. 

" So there are suspected witches in Pendle Forest, I find," he 
said. " I shall make it my business to institute inquiries concern 
ing them, when I visit the place to-morrow. Even if merely 
ill-reputed, they must be examined, and if found innocent cleared; 
if not, punished according to the statute. Our sovereign lord the 
king holdeth witches in especial abhorrence, and would gladly see 
all such noxious vermin extirpated from the land, and it will 
rejoice me to promote his laudable designs. I must pray you to 
afford me all the assistance you can in the discovery of these 
dreadful delinquents, good Master Nicholas, and I will care that 
your services are duly represented in the proper quarter. As I 
have just said, the king taketh singular interest in witchcraft, as 
you may judge if the learned tractate he hath put forth, in form 
of a dialogue, intituled " Dcemonologie" hath ever met your eye ; 
and he is never so well pleased as when the truth of his tenets 
are proved by such secret offenders being brought to light, and 
duly punished." 

" The king's known superstitious dread of witches makes men 
seek them out to win his favour," observed Mistress Nutter. 
" They have wonderfully increased since the publication of that 
baneful book !" 

" Not so, madam," replied Potts. " Our sovereign lord the 
king hath a wholesome and just hatred of such evil-doers and 
traitors to himself and heaven, and it may be dread of them, as 
indeed all good men must have ; but he would protect his sub 
jects from them, and therefore, in the first year of his reign, 
which I trust will be long and prosperous, he hath passed a 
statute, whereby it is enacted ' that all persons invoking any evil 



ALICE NUTTER. 97 

spirit, or consulting, covenanting with, entertaining, employing, 
feeding, or rewarding any evil spirit ; or taking up dead bodies 
from their graves to be used in any witchcraft, sorcery, charm, or 
enchantment ; or killing or otherwise hurting any person by 
such infernal arts, shall be guilty of felony without benefit of 
clergy, and suffer death.' This statute, madam, was intended to 
check the crimes of necromancy, sorcery, and witchcraft, and not 
to increase them. And I maintain that it has checked them, and 
will continue to check them." 

" It is a wicked and bloody statute," observed Mrs. Nutter, in a 
deep tone, ft and many an innocent life will be sacrificed thereby." 

" How, madam !" cried Master Potts, staring aghast. " Do 
you mean to impugn the sagacity and justice of our high and 
mighty king, the head of the law, and defender of the faith ?" 

" I affirm that this is a sanguinary enactment," replied Mistress 
Nutter, " and will put power into hands that will abuse it, and 
destroy many guiltless persons. It will make more witches than 
it will find." 

u Some are ready made, methinks," muttered Potts, " and we 
need not go far to find them. You are a zealous advocate for 
witches, 1 must say, madarn," he added aloud, " and I shall not, 
forget your arguments in their favour." 

" To my prejudice, I doubt not," she rejoined, bitterly. 

" No, to the credit of your humanity," he answered bowing, 
with pretended conviction. 

" Well, I will aid you in your search for witches, Master Potts," 
observed Nicholas ; " for I would gladly see the country rid of 
these pests. But I warn you the quest will be attended with 
risk, and you will get few to accompany you, for all the folk here 
abouts are mortally afraid of these terrible old hags." 

" I fear nothing in the discharge of my duty," replied Master 
Potts, courageously, " for as our high and mighty sovereign hath 
well and learnedly observed ' if witches be but apprehended and 
detained by any private person, upon other private respects, their 
power, no doubt, either in escaping, or in doing hurt, is no less 
than ever it was before. But if, on the other part, their appre 
hending and detention be by the lawful magistrate upon the just 
respect of their guiltiness in that craft, their power is then no 
greater than before that ever they meddled with their master- 
For where God begins justly to strike by his lawful lieutenants, 
it is not in the devil's power to defraud or bereave him of the 
office or effect of his powerful and revenging sceptre.' Thus I 
am safe ; and I shall take care to go armed with a proper warrant, 
which I shall obtain from a magistrate, my honoured friend and 
singular good client, Master Roger Nowell. This will obtain me 
such assistance as I may require, and for due observance of my 
authority. I shall likewise take with me a peace-officer, or 
constable." 



98 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

te You will do well, Master Potts," said Nicholas ; " still you 
must not put faith in all the idle tales told you, for the common 
folk hereabouts are blindly and foolishly superstitious, and fancy 
they discern witchcraft in every mischance, however slight, that 
befalls them. If ale turn sour after a thunder-storm, the witch 
hath done it; and if the butter comethnot quickly, she hindereth 
it. If the meat roast ill the witch hath turned the spit ; and if 
the lumber pie taste ill she hath had a finger in it. If your'sheep 
have the foot-rot your horses the staggers or string-halt -your 
swine the measles your hounds a surfeit or your cow slippeth 
her calf the witch is at the bottom of it all. If your maid hath 
a fit of the sullens, or doeth her work amiss, or your man break- 
eth a dish, the witch is in fault, and her shoulders can bear the 
blame. On this very day or the year namely, May Day, the 
foolish folk hold any aged crone who fetcheth fire to be a witch, 
and if they catch a hedge-hog among their cattle, they will 
instantly beat it to death with sticks, concluding it to be an old 
hag in that form come to dry up the milk of their kine." 

66 These are what Master Potts's royal authority would style 
mere old wives' trattles about the fire,' " observed Mistress Nut 
ter, scornfully. 

" Better be over-credulous than over-sceptical," replied Potts. 
^ Even at my lodging in Chancery Lane I have a horseshoe 
Bailed against the door. One cannot be too cautious when one 
has to fight against the devil, or those in league with him. Your 
witch should be put to every ordeal. She should be scratched 
with pins to draw blood from her ; weighed against the church 
bible, though this is not always proof ; forced to weep, for a witch 
can only shed three tears, and those only from the left eye ; or, as 
our sovereign lord the king truly observeth no offence to you, 
Mistress Nutter 'Not so much as their eyes are able to shed 
tears, albeit the womenkind especially be able otherwise to shed 
tears at every light occasion when they will, yea, although it 
were dissemblingly like the crocodile ; ' and set on a stool for 
twenty-four hours, with her legs tied across, and suffered neither 
to eat, drink, nor sleep during the time. This is the surest way 
to make her confess her guilt next to swimming. If it fails, then 
cast her with her thumbs and toes tied across into a pond, and 
if she sink not then is she certainly a witch. Other trials there 
are, as that by scalding water sticking knives across heating 
of the horseshoe tying of knots the sieve and the shears ; but 
the only ordeals safely to be relied on, are the swimming and the 
stool before mentioned, and from these your witch shall rarely 
escape. Above all, be sure and search carefully for the witch- 
mark. I doubt not we shall find it fairly and legibly writ in the 
devil's characters on Mother Demdike and Mother Chattox. 
They shall undergo the stool and the pool, and other trials, if 
required. These old hags shall no longer vex you, good Master 



ALICE NUTTER. 9J 

Nicholas. Leave them to me, and doubt not I will bring them 
to condign punishment," 

" You will do us good service then, Master Potts," replied 
Nicholas. u But since you are so learned in the matter of witch 
craft, resolve me, I pray you, how it is, that women are so much 
more addicted to the practice of the black art than our own 
sex." 

" The answer to the inquiry hath been given by our British 
Solomon," replied Potts, u and I will deliver it to you in his own 
words. < The reason is easy,' he saith ; ' for as that sex is frailer 
than man is, so it is easier to be entrapped in those gross snares 
of the devil, as was overwell proved to be true, by the serpent's 
deceiving of Eva at the beginning, which makes him the home 
lier with that sex sensine.' " 

" A good and sufficient reason, Master Potts," said Nicholas, 
laughing ; " is it not so, Mistress Nutter ?" 

" Ay, marry, if it satisfies you," she answered, drily. e( It is 
of a piece with the rest of the reasoning of the royal pedant, 
whom Master Potts styles the British Solomon." 

" I only give the learned monarch the title by which he is re 
cognised throughout Christendom," rejoined Potts, sharply. 

" Well, there is comfort in the thought, that I shall never be 
taken for a wizard," said the squire. 

" Be not too sure of that, good Master Nicholas," returned Potts. 
" Our present prince seems to have had you in his eye when he 
penned his description of a wizard, for, he saith, ' A great number 
of them that ever have been convict or confessors of witchcraft, as 
may be presently seen by many that have at this time confessed, 
are some of them rich and worldly-wise; some of them fat or cor 
pulent in their bodies; and most part of them altogether given over 
to the pleasures of the flesh, continual haunting of company, and 
all kinds of merriness, lawful and unlawful.' This hitteth you ex 
actly, Master Nicholas." 

" Zounds ! " exclaimed the squire, Ce if this be exact, it toucheth 
me too nearly to be altogether agreeable." 

" The passage is truly quoted, Nicholas," observed Mistress 
Nutter, with a cold smile. " I perfectly remember it. Master 
Potts seems to have the 6 Daemonologie' at his fingers' ends/' 

u I have made it my study, madam," replied the lawyer, some 
what mollified by the remark, " as I have the statute on witchcraft 
and indeed most other statutes." 

(t We have wasted time enough in this unprofitable talk," said 
Mistress Nutter, abruptly quitting them without bestowing the 
slightest salutation on Potts. 

" I was but jesting in what I said just now, good Master Nicho 
las," observed the little lawyer, nowise disconcerted at the slight ; 
" though they were the king's exact words I quoted. No one 
would suspect you of being a wizard ha! ha! But I am resolved 



100 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

to prosecute the search, and I calculate upon your aid, and 
that of Master Richard Assheton, who goes with us." 

" You shall have mine, at all events, Master Potts," replied 
Nicholas ; " and I doubt not, my cousin Dick's, too." 

' Our May Queen, Alizon Device, is Mother Demdike's grand 
daughter, is she not?" asked Potts, after a moment's reflection. 

" Ay, why do you ask ? " demanded Nicholas. 

" For a good and sufficing reason," replied Potts. e( She- might 
be an important witness; for, as King James saith, 6 bairns or wives 
may, of our law, serve for sufficient witnesses and proofs.' And 
he goeth on to say, * For who but witches can be proofs, and so 
witnesses of the doings of witches V ' 

" You do not mean to aver that Alizon Device is a witch, sir?" 
cried Nicholas, sharply. 

u I aver nothing," replied Potts; " but, as a relative of a suspected 
witch, she will be the best witness against her." 

" If you design to meddle with Alizon Device, expect no assist 
ance from me, Master Potts," said Nicholas, sternly, " but rather 
the contrary." 

(t Nay, I but threw out the hint, good Master Nicholas," replied 
Potts. " Another witness will do equally well. There are other 
children, no doubt. I rely on you, sir I rely on you. I shall now 
go in search of Master Nowell, and obtain the warrant and the 
constable." 

(C And I shall go keep my appointment with Parson Dewhurst, 
at the Abbey," said Nicholas, bowing slightly to the attorney, and 
taking his departure. 

" It will not do to alarm him at present," said Potts, looking 
after him, " but I'll have that girl as a witness, and I know how 
to terrify her into compliance. A singular woman, that Mistress 
Alice Nutter. I must inquire into her history. Odd, how ob 
stinately she set her face against witchcraft. And yet she lives 
at Rough Lee, in the very heart of a witch district, for such Master 
Nicholas Assheton calls this Pendle Forest. I shouldn't wonder 
if she has dealings with the old hags she defends Mother Dem- 
dike and Mother Chattox. Chattox ! Lord bless us, what a name ! 
There's caldron and broomstick in the very sound! And Dem- 
dike is little better. Both seem of diabolical invention. If I can 
unearth a pack of witches, I shall gain much credit from my hon 
ourable good lords the judges of assize in these northern parts, 
besides pleasing the King himself, who is sure to hear of it, and 
reward my praiseworthy zeal. Look to yourself, Mistress Nutter, 
and take care you are not caught tripping. And now, for Master 
Roger Nowell. 

With this, he peered about among the crowd in search of the 
magistrate, but though he thrust his little turned-up nose in every 
direction, he could not find him, and therefore set out for the Ab 
bey, concluding he had gone thither. 



ALICE NUTTER. 101 

As Mistress Nutter walked along, she perceived James Device 
among the crowd, holding Jennet by the hand, and motioned him 
to come to her. Jem instantly understood the sign, and quitting 
his little sister, drew near. 

" Teh 1 thy mother," said Mistress Nutter, in a tone calculated 
only for his hearing, " to come to me, at the Abbey, quickly and 
secretly. I shall be in the ruins of the old convent church. I have 
somewhat to say to her, that concerns herself as well as me. Thou 
wilt have to go to Rough Lee and Malkin Tower to-night." 

Jem nodded, to show his perfect apprehension of what was said 
and his assent to it, and while Mistress Nutter moved on with a slow 
and dignified step, he returned to Jennet, and told her she must 
go home directly, a piece of intelligence which was not received 
very graciously by the little maiden; but nothing heeding her 
unwillingness/ Jem walked her off quickly in the direction of the 
cottage ; but while on the way to it, they accidentally encountered 
their mother, Elizabeth Device, and therefore stopped. 

" Yo mun go up to th' Abbey directly, mother," said Jem, with 
a wink, " Mistress Nutter wishes to see ye. Yo'n find her i' t* 
ruins o' t' owd convent church. Tak kere yo're neaw seen. Yo 
onderstond." 

" Yeigh," replied Elizabeth, nodding her head significantly, 
" ey'n go at wonst, an see efter Alizon ot t' same time. Fo ey'm 
towd hoo has fainted, an been ta'en to th' Abbey by Lady Asshe- 
ton." 

" Never heed Alizon," replied Jem, gruffly. Hoo's i' good hands. 
Ye munna be seen, ey tell ye. Ey'm going to Malkin Tower to- 
neet, if yo'n owt to send." 

u To-neet, Jem," echoed little Jennet. 

" Eigh," rejoined Jem, sharply. " Howd te tongue, wench, 
Dunna lose time, mother." 

And as he and his little sister pursued their way to the cottage, 
Elizabeth hobbled off towards the Abbey, muttering, as she went, 
" I hope Alizon an Mistress Nutter winna meet. Nah that it 
matters, boh still it's better not. Strange, the wench should ha' 
fainted. Boh she's always foolish an timmersome, an ey half fear 
has lost her heart to young Richard Assheton. Ey'n watch her 
narrowly, an if it turn out to be so, she mun be cured, or he se 
cured ha! ha !" 

And muttering in this way, she passed through the Abbey gate 
way, the wicket being left open, and proceeded towards the ruinous 
convent church, taking care as much as possible to avoid observa 
tion. 



102 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 



CHAPTER V. MOTHER CHATTOX. 

NOT far from the green where the May-day revels were held, 
stood the ancient parish church of Whalley, its square tower 
surmounted with a flag-staff and banner, and shaking with the 
joyous peals of the ringers. A picturesque and beautiful structure 
it was, though full of architectural incongruities ; and its grey 
walls and hoary buttresses, with the lancet-shaped windows of the 
choir, and the ramified tracery of the fine eastern window, could 
not fail to please any taste not quite sol-critical as to require abso 
lute harmony and perfection in a building. Parts of the venerable 
fabric were older than the Abbey itself, dating back as far as the 
eleventh century, when a chapel occupied the site ; and though 
many alterations had been made in the subsequent structure at 
various times, and many beauties destroyed, especially during 
the period of the Reformation, enough of its pristine character 
remained to render it a very good specimen of an old country 
church. Internally, the cylindrical columns of the north aisle, 
the construction of the choir, and the three stone seats supported 
on rounded columns near the altar, proclaimed its high antiquity. 
Within the choir were preserved the eighteen richly-carved stalls 
once occupying a similar position in the desecrated conventual 
church; and though exquisite in themselves, they seemed here 
sadly out of place, not being proportionate to the structure. 
Their elaborately-carved seats projected far into the body of the 
church, and their crocketed pinnacles shot up almost to the 
ceiling. But it was well they had not shared the destruction in 
which almost all the other ornaments of the magnificent fane they 
once decorated were involved. Carefully preserved, the black 
varnished oak well displayed the quaint and grotesque designs 
with which many of them the Prior's stall in especial were 
embellished. Chief among them was the abbot's stall, festooned 
with sculptured vine wreaths and clustering grapes, and bearing 
the auspicious inscription : 

Inttjirr garittubs rart ista A states: 

singularly inapplicable, however, to the last prelate who filled it. 
Some fine old monuments, and warlike trophies of neighbouring 
wealthy families, adorned the walls, and within the nave was a 
magnificent pew, with a canopy and pillars of elaborately-carved 
oak, and lattice-work at the sides, allotted to the manor of Read, 
and recently erected by Roger Nowell ; while in the north and 
south aisles were two small chapels, converted since the reformed 
faith had obtained, into pews the one called Saint Mary's Cage, 
belonging to the Assheton family ; and the other appertaining to 
the Catterals of Little Mitton, and designated Saint Nicholas** 



MOTHER CHATTOX. 103 

Cage. Under the last-named chapel were interred some of the 
Paslews of Wiswall, and here lay the last unfortunate Abbot of 
Whalley, between whose grave, and the Assheton and Braddyll 
families, a fatal relation was supposed to subsist. Another large 
pew, allotted to the Towneleys, and designated Saint Anthony's 
Cage, was rendered remarkable, by a characteristic speech of Sir 
John Towneley, which gave much offence to the neighbouring 
dames. Called upon to decide as to the position of the sittings 
in the church, the discourteous knight made choice of Saint 
Anthony's Cage, already mentioned, declaring, " My man, Shuttle- 
worth of Hacking, made this form, and here will I sit when I 
come ; and my cousin Nowell may make a seat behind me if he 
please, and rny son Sherburne shall make one on the other side, 
and Master Catteral another behind him, and for the residue the 
use shall be, first come first speed, and that will make the proud 
wives of Whalley rise betimes to come to church." One can 
fancy the rough knight's chuckle, as he addressed these words to 
the old clerk, certain of their being quickly repeated to the " proud 
wives" in question. 

Within the churchyard grew two fine old yew-trees, now long 
since decayed and gone, but then spreading their dark-green arms 
over the little turf-covered graves. Reared against the buttresses 
of the church was an old stone coffin, together with a fragment 
of a curious monumental effigy, likewise of stone ; but the most 
striking objects in the place, and deservedly ranked amongst the 
wonders of Whalley, were three remarkable obelisk-shaped crosses, 
set in a line upon pedestals, covered with singular devices in fret 
work, and all three differing in size and design. Evidently of 
remotest antiquity, these crosses were traditionally assigned to 
Paullinus, who, according to the Venerable Bede, first preached 
the Gospel in these parts, in the early part of the seventh cen 
tury; but other legends were attached to them by the vulgar, 
and dim mystery brooded over them. 

Vestiges of another people and another faith were likewise here 
discernible, for where the Saxon forefathers of the village prayed 
and slumbered in death, the Roman invaders of the isle had 
trodden, and perchance performed their religious rites ; some 
traces of an encampment being found in the churchyard by the 
historian of the spot, while the north boundary of the hallowed 
precincts was formed by a deep foss, once encompassing the nigh- 
obliterated fortification. Besides these records of an elder people, 
there was another memento of bygone days and creeds, in a little 
hermitage and chapel adjoining it, founded in the reign of Edward 
III., by Henry, Duke of Lancaster, for the support of two recluses 
and a priest to say masses daily for him and his descendants ; but 
this pious bequest being grievously abused in the subsequent reign 
of Henry VI., by Isole de Heton, a fair widow, who in the first 
transports of grief, vowing herself to heaven, took up her abode 



104 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

in the hermitage, and led a very disorderly life therein, to the 
great scandal of the Abbey, and the great prejudice of the morals 
of its brethren, and at last, tired even of the slight restraint im 
posed upon her, fled away " contrary to her oath and profession, 
not willing, nor intending to be restored again ; " the hermitage 
was dissolved by the pious monarch, and masses ordered to be 
said daily in the parish church for the repose of the soul of the 
founder. Such was the legend attached to the little cell, and 
tradition went on to say that the anchoress broke her leg in 
crossing Whalley Nab, and limped ever afterwards; a just judg 
ment on such a heinous offender. Both these little structures 
were picturesque objects, being overgrown with ivy and wood 
bine. The chapel was completely in ruins, while the cell, profaned 
by the misdoings of the dissolute votaress Isole, had been con 
verted into a cage for vagrants and offenders, and made secure 
by a grated window, and a strong door studded with broad-headed 
nails. 

The view from the churchyard, embracing the vicarage-house, 
a comfortable residence, surrounded by a large walled-in garden, 
well stocked with fruit-trees, and sheltered by a fine grove of 
rook-haunted timber, extended on the one hand over the village, 
and on the other over the Abbey, and was bounded by the tower 
ing and well-wooded heights of Whalley Nab. On the side of 
the Abbey, the most conspicuous objects were the great north 
eastern gateway, with the ruined conventual church. Ever beau 
tiful, the view was especially so on the present occasion, from the 
animated scene combined with it ; and the pleasant prospect was 
enjoyed by a large assemblage, who had adjourned thither to 
witness the concluding part ot the festival. 

Within the green and flower-decked bowers which, as has before 
been mentioned, were erected in the churchyard, were seated 
Doctor Ormerod and Sir Ralph Assheton, with such of their 
respective guests as had not already retired, including Richard 
and Nicholas Assheton, both of whom had returned from the 
abbey; the former having been dismissed by Lady Assheton from 
further attendance upon Alizon, and the latter having concluded 
his discourse with Parson Dewhurst, who, indeed, accompanied 
him to the church, and was now placed between the Vicar and 
the Rector of Middleton. From this gentle elevation the gay 
company on the green could be fully discerned, the tall May- pole, 
with its garlands and ribands, forming a pivot, about which the 
throng ever revolved, while stationary amidst the moving masses, 
the rush-cart reared on high its broad green back, as if to resist 
the living waves constantly dashed against it. By-and-by a new 
kind of movement was perceptible, and it soon became evident 
that a procession was being formed. Immediately afterwards, the 
rush-cart was put in motion, and winded slowly along the narrow 
btreet leading to the church, preceded by the morris-dancers and 



MOTHER CHATTOX. 105 

the other May-day revellers, and followed by a great concourse oi 
people, shouting, dancing, and singing. 

On came the crowd. The jingling of bells, and the sound of 
music grew louder and louder, and the procession, lost for awhile 
behind some intervening habitations, though the men bestriding 
the rush-cart could be discerned over their summits, burst sud 
denly into view ; and the revellers entering the churchyard, drew 
up on either side of the little path leading to the porch, while the 
rush-cart coming up the next moment, stopped at the gate. 
Then four young maidens dressed in white, and having baskets 
in their hands, advanced and scattered flowers along the path ; 
after which ladders were reared against the sides of the rush-cart, 
and the men, descending from their exalted position, bore the 
garlands to the church, preceded by the vicar and the two other 
divines, and followed by Robin Hood and his band, the morris- 
dancers, and a troop of little children singing a hymn. The next 
step was to unfasten the bundles of rushes, of which the cart was 
composed, and this was very quickly and skilfully performed, the 
utmost care being taken of the trinkets and valuables with which 
it was ornamented. These were gathered together in baskets 
and conveyed to the vestry, and there locked up. This done, the 
bundles of rushes were taken up by several old women, who 
strewed the aisles with them, and placed such as had been tied 
up as mats in the pews. At the same time, two casks of ale set 
near the gate, and given for the occasion by the vicar, were 
broached, and their foaming contents freely distributed among 
the dancers and the thirsty crowd. Very merry were they, as 
may be supposed, in consequence, but their mirth was happily 
kept within due limits of decorum. 

When the rush-cart was wellnigh unladen Richard Assheton 
entered the church, and greatly pleased with the effect of the 
flowery garlands with which the various pews were decorated, 
said as much to the vicar, who smilingly replied, that he was glad 
to find he approved of the practice, " even though it might savour 
of superstition;" and as the good doctor walked away, being 
called forth, the young man almost unconsciously turned into the 
chapel on the north aisle. Here he stood for a few moments 
gazing round the church, wrapt in pleasing meditation, in which 
many objects, somewhat foreign to the place and time, passed 
through his mind, when, chancing to look down, he saw a small 
funeral wreath, of mingled yew and cypress, lying at his feet, and 
a slight tremor passed over his frame, as he found he was stand 
ing on the ill-omened grave of Abbot Paslew. Before he could 
ask himself by whom this sad garland had been so deposited, 
Nicholas Assheton came up to him, and with a look of great 
uneasiness cried, u Come away instantly, Dick. Do you know 
where you are standing ? " 



106 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" On the grave of the last Abbot of Whalley," replied Richard, 
smiling. 

" Have you forgotten the common saying," cried Nicholas 
" that the Assheton who stands on that unlucky grave shall die 
within the year 1 Come away at once," 

" It is too late," replied Richard, " I have incurred the fate, if 
such a fate be attached to the tomb; and as my moving away will 
not preserve me, so my tarrying here cannot injure me further. 
But I have no fear." 

" You have more courage than I possess," rejoined Nicholas. 
" I would not set foot on that accursed stone for half the county. 
Its malign influence on our house has been approved too often. 
The first to experience the fatal destiny were Richard Assheton 
and John Braddyll, the purchasers of the Abbey. Both met 
here together on the anniversary of the abbot's execution some 
forty years after its occurrence, it is true, and when they were 
both pretty well stricken in years and within that year, namely 
1578, both died, and were buried in the vault on the opposite side 
of the church, not many paces from their old enemy. The last 
instance was my poor brother Richard, who, being incredulous as 
you are, was resolved to brave the destiny, and stationed himself 
upon the tomb during divine service, but he too died within the 
appointed time." 

" He was bewitched to death so, at least, it is affirmed," said 
Richard Assheton, with a smile. " But I believe in one evil 
influence just as much as in the other." 

" It matters not how the destiny be accomplished, so it come 
to pass," rejoined the squire, turning away. " Heaven shield you 
from it !" 

" Stay !" said Richard, picking up the wreath. " Who, think 
you, can have placed this funeral garland on the abbot's grave ?" 

" I cannot guess !" cried Nicholas, staring at it in amazement 
"an enemy of ours, most likely. It is neither customary nor 
lawful in our Protestant country so to ornament graves. Put it 
down, Dick." 

" I shall not displace it, certainly ," replied Richard, laying it 
down again ; ft but I as little think it has been placed here by a 
hostile hand, as I do that harm will ensue to me from standing 
here. To relieve your anxiety, however, I will come forth," he 
added, stepping into the aisle. " Why should an enemy deposit 
a garland on the abbot's tomb, since it was by mere chance that 
it hath met my eyes ?" 

"Mere chance !" cried Nicholas ; "every thing is mere chance 
with you philosophers. There is more than chance in it. My 
mind misgives me strangely. That terrible old Abbot Paslew is 
as troublesome to us in death, as he was during life to our prede 
cessor. Richard Assheton. Not content with making his tomb- 



MOTHER CHATTOX. 107 

stone a weapon of destruction to us, he pays the Abbey itself an 
occasional visit, and his appearance always betides some disaster 
to the family. I have never seen him myself, and trust I never 
shall ; but other people have, and have been nigh scared out of 
their senses by the apparition." 

" Idle tales, the invention of overheated brains," rejoined 
Richard. " Trust me, the abbot's rest will not be broken till the 
day when all shall rise from their tombs ; though if ever the dead 
(supposing such a thing possible) could be justified in injuring 
and affrighting the living, it might be in his case, since he mainly 
owed his destruction to our ancestor. On the same principle it 
has been held that church-lands are unlucky to their lay posses 
sors ; but see how this superstitious notion has been disproved in 
our own family, to whom Whalley Abbey and its domains have 
brought wealth, power, and worldly happiness." 

" There is something in the notion, nevertheless," replied 
Nicholas ; " and though our case may, I hope, continue an excep 
tion to the rule, most grantees of ecclesiastical houses have found 
them a curse, and the time may come when the Abbey may prove 
so to our descendants. But, without discussing the point, there 
is one instance in which the malignant influence of the vindictive 
abbot has undoubtedly extended long after his death. You have 
heard, I suppose, that he pronounced a dreadful anathema upon 
the child of a man who had the reputation of being a wizard, and 
who afterwards acted as his executioner. I know not the whole 
particulars of the dark story, but I know that Paslew fixed a 
curse upon the child, declaring it should become a witch, and the 
mother of witches. And the prediction has been verified. Nigh 
eighty years have flown by since then, and the infant still lives 
a fearful and mischievous witch and all her family are simi 
larly fated all are witches." 

" I never heard the story before," said Richard, somewhat 
thoughtfully ; " but I guess to whom you allude Mother Dem- 
dike of Pendle Forest, and her family." 

" Precisely," rejoined Nicholas; " they are a brood of witches." 

" In that case Alizon Device must be a witch," cried Richard ; 
" and I think you will hardly venture upon such an assertion after 
what you have seen of her to-day. If she be a witch, I would 
there were many such as fair and gentle. And see you not 
how easily the matter is explained? * Give a dog an ill name and 
hang him' a proverb with which you are familiar enough. So 
with Mother Demdike. Whether really uttered or not, the 
abbot's curse upon her and her issue has been bruited abroad, and 
hence she is made a witch, and her children are supposed to in 
herit the infamous taint. So it is with yon tomb. It is said to 
be dangerous to our family, and dangerous no doubt it is to those 
who believe in the saying, which, luckily, I do not. The pro 
phecy works its own fulfilment. The absurdity and injustice 



108 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

of yielding to the opinion are manifest. No wrong can have 
been done the abbot by Mother Demdike, any more than by her 
children, and yet they are to be punished for the misdeeds of 
their predecessor." 

" Ay, just as you and I, who are of the third and fourth gene 
ration, may be punished for the sins of our fathers," rejoined 
Nicholas. "You have Scripture against you, Dick. The only 
thing I see in favour of your argument is, the instance you allege 
of Alizon. She does not look like a witch, certainly ; but there 
is no saying. She may be only the more dangerous for her rare 
beauty, and apparent innocence ! " 

" I would answer for her truth with my life," cried Richard, 
quickly. " It is impossible to look at her countenance, in which 
candour and purity shine forth, and doubt her goodness." 

" She hath cast her spells over you, Dick, that is certain," 
rejoined Nicholas, laughing ; but to be serious. Alizon, I admit, 
is an exception to the rest of the family, but that only strengthens 
the general rule. Did you ever remark the strange look they all 
save the fair maid in question have about the eyes I " 

Richard answered in the negative. 

u It is very singular, and I wonder you have not noticed it,** 
pursued Nicholas ; " but the question of reputed witchcraft in 
Mother Demdike has some chance of being speedily settled ; for 
Master Potts, the little London lawyer, who goes with us to 
Pendle Forest to-morrow, is about to have her arrested and 
examined before a magistrate." 

" Indeed !" exclaimed Richard, "this must be prevented." 

" Why so ? " exclaimed Nicholas, in surprise. 

" Because the prejudice existing against her is sure to convict 
and destroy her," replied Richard. " Her great age, infirmities, 
and poverty, will be proofs against her. How can she, or any old 
enfeebled creature like her, whose decrepitude and misery should 
move compassion rather than excite fear how can such a person 
defend herself against charges easily made, and impossible to 
refute ? I do not deny the possibility of witchcraft, even in our 
own days, though I think it of very unlikely occurrence ; but I 
would determinately resist giving credit to any tales told by the 
superstitious vulgar, who, naturally prone to cruelty, have so many 
motives for revenging imaginary wrongs. It is placing a dreadful 
weapon in their hands, of which they have cunning enough to 
know the use, but neither mercy nor justice enough to restrain 
them from using it. Better let one guilty person escape, than 
many innocent perish. So many undefined charges have been 
brought against Mother Demdike, that at last they have fixed a 
stigma on her name, and made her an object of dread and suspi 
cion. She is endowed with mysterious power, which would have 
no effect if not believed in ; and now must be burned because she 
is called a witch, and is doting and vain enough to accept the title." 



MOTHER CHATTOX. 109 

" There is something in a witch difficult, nay, almost impossible 
to describe," said Nicholas, " but you cannot be mistaken about 
her. By her general ill course of life, by repeated acts of mischief, 
and by threats, followed by the consequences menaced, she 
becomes known. There is much mystery in the matter, not per 
mitted human knowledge entirely to penetrate ; but, as we know 
from the Scriptures that the sin of witchcraft did exist, and as we 
have no evidence that it has ceased, so it is fair to conclude, that 
there may be practisers of the dark offence in our own days, and 
such I hold to be Mother Demdike and Mother Chattox. Rival 
potentates in evil, they contend which shall do most mischief, but 
it must be admitted me former bears away the bell." 

"If all the ill attributed to her were really caused by her 
machinations, this might be correct," replied Richard, " but it only 
shows her to be more calumniated than the other. In a word, 
cousin Nicholas, I look upon them as two poor old creatures, who, 
persuaded they really possess the supernatural power accorded to 
them by the vulgar, strive to act up to their parts, and are mainly 
assisted in doing so by the credulity and fears of their audience.'* 

" Admitting the blind credulity of the multitude," said Nicholas, 
" and their proneness to discern the hand of the witch in the most 
trifling accidents; admitting also, their readiness to accuse any 
old crone unlucky enough to offend them of sorcery ; I still believe 
that there are actual practisers of the black art, who, for a brief 
term of power, have entered into a league with Satan, worship him 
and attend his sabbaths, and have a familiar, in the shape of a cat, 
dog, toad, or mole, to obey their behests, transform themselves 
into various shapes as a hound, horse, or hare, raise storms of 
wind or hail, maim cattle, bewitch and slay human beings, and 
ride whither they will on broomsticks. But, holding the contrary 
opinion, you will not, I apprehend, aid Master Potts in his quest 
of witches." 

u I wih 1 not," rejoined Richard. " On the contrary, I will 
oppose him. But enough of this. Let us go forth." 

And they quitted the church together. 

As they issued into the churchyard, they found the principal 
arbours occupied by the morris-dancers, Robin Hood and his troop, 
Doctor Ormerod and Sir Ralph having retired to the vicarage- 
house. 

Many merry groups were scattered about, talking, laughing, 
and singing ; but two persons, seemingly objects of suspicion and 
alarm, and shunned by every one who crossed their path, were 
advancing slowly towards the three crosses of Paullinus, which 
stood in a line, not far from the church-porch. They were females, 
one about five-and-twenty, very comely, and habited in smart 
holiday attire, put on with considerable rustic coquetry, so as to 
display a very neat foot and ankle, ane 1 with plenty of ribands in 
her fine chestnut hair. The other was a very different person, far 



110 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

advanced in years, bent almost double, palsy-stricken, her arms 
and limbs shaking, her head nodding, her chin wagging, her snowy 
locks hanging about her wrinkled visage, her brows and upper lip 
frore, and her eyes almost sightless, the pupils being cased with 
a thin white film. Her dress, of antiquated make and faded stuff, 
had been once deep red in colour, and her old black hat was high- 
crowned and broad-brimmed. She partly aided herself in walk 
ing with a crutch-handled stick, and partly leaned upon her 
younger companion for support. 

" Why, there is one of the old women we have just been 
speaking of Mother Chattox," said Richard, pointing them out, 
" and with her, her grand-daughter, pretty Nan Redferne." 

" So it is," cried Nicholas, Ce what makes the old hag here, I 
marvel ! I will go question her." 

So saying, he strode quickly towards her. 

" How now, Mother Chatto* !" he cried. " What mischief is 
afoot ? What makes the darkness-loving owl abroad in the glare 
of day ? What brings the grisly she-wolf from her forest lair ? 
Back to thy den, old witch ! Ar*t crazed, as well as blind and 
palsied, that thou knowest not that this is a merry-making, and not 
a devil's sabbath ? Back to th} 1 hut, I say ! These sacred pre 
cincts are no place for thee." 

" Who is it speaks to me ?" demanded the old hag, halting, and 
fixing her glazed eyes upon him. 

" One thou hast much injured," replied Nicholas. " One into 
whose house thou hast brought quick-wasting sickness and death 
by thy infernal arts. One thou hast good reason to fear ; for learn, 
to thy confusion, thou damned and murtherous witch, it is 
Nicholas, brother to thy victim, Richard Assheton of Downham, 
who speaks to thee." 

' te I know none I have reason to fear," replied Mother Chattox ; 
<e especially thee, Nicholas Assheton. Thy brother was no victim 
of mine. Thou wert the gainer by his death, not I. Why should 
I slay him?" 

" I will tell thee why, old hag," cried Nicholas ; " he was 
inflamed by the beauty of thy grand-daughter Nancy here, and it 
was to please Tom Redferne, her sweetheart then, but her spouse 
since, that thou bewitchedst him to death." 

" That reason will not avail thee, Nicholas," rejoined Mother 
Chattox, with a derisive laugh. " If I had any hand in his death, 
it was to serve and pleasure thee, and that all men shall know, if 
I am questioned on the subject ha ! ha ! Take me to the crosses, 
Nance." 

" Thou shalt not 'scape thus, thou murtherous hag," cried 
Nicholas, furiously. 

" Nay, let her go her way," said Richard, who had drawn near 
during the colloquy. t( No good will come of meddling with her." 

" Who's that ?" asked Mother Chattox, quickly. 



MOTHER CHATTOX. Ill 

" Master Richard Assheton, o' Middleton," whispered Nan 
Redferne. 

" Another of these accursed Asshetons," cried Mother Chattox. 
"A plague seize them!" 

" Boh he's weel-favourt an kindly," remarked her grand 
daughter. 

" Well-favoured or not, kindly or cruel, I hate them all," cried 
Mother Chattox. " To the crosses, I say !" 

But Nicholas placed himself in their path. 

" Is it to pray to Beelzebub, thy master, that thou wouldst go 
to the crosses ? " he asked. 

" Out of my way, pestilent fool !" cried the hag. 

" Thou shalt not stir till I have had an answer," rejoined 
-Nicholas. " They say those are Runic obelisks, and not Christian 
crosses, and that the carvings upon them have a magical significa 
tion. The first, it is averred, is written o'er with deadly curses, 
and the forms in which they are traced, as serpentine, triangular, 
or round, indicate and rule their swift or slow effect. The second 
bears charms against diseases, storms, and lightning. And on 
the third is inscribed a verse which will render him who can 
read it rightly, invisible to mortal view. Thou shouldst be learned 
in such lore, old Pythoness. Is it so?" 

The hag's chin wagged fearfully, and her frame trembled with 
passion, but she spoke not. 

"Have you been in the church, old woman?" interposed 
Richard. 

"Ay, wherefore?" she rejoined. 

" Some one has placed a cypress wreath on Abbot Paslew's 
grave. Was it you?" he asked. 

" What ! hast thou found it ?" cried the hag. " It shall bring 
thee rare luck, lad rare luck. Now let me pass." 

" Not yet," cried Nicholas, forcibly grasping her withered arm. 

The hag uttered a scream of rage. 

" Let me go, Nicholas Assheton," she shrieked, " or thou shalt 
rue it. Cramps and aches shall wring and rack thy flesh and 
bones; fever shall consume thee; ague shake thee shake thee 
ha!" 

And Nicholas recoiled, appalled by her fearful gestures. 

et You carry your malignity too far, old woman," said Richard 
severely. 

" And thou darest tell me so," cried the ha_r. " Set me 
before him, Nance, that I may curse him," she added, raising 
her palsied arm. 

"Nah, nah yo'n cursed ower much already, grandmother," 
cried Nan Redferne, endeavouring to drag her away. But the 
old woman resisted. 

" I will teach him to cross my path," she vociferated, in 
accents shrill and jarring as the cry of the goat-sucker. 



112 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Handsome he is, it may be, now, but he shall not be so 
The bloom shall fade from his cheek, the fire be extinguished in 
his eyes, the strength depart from his limbs. Sorrow shall be 
her portion who loves him sorrow and shame !" 

" Horrible!" exclaimed Richard, endeavouring to exclude the 
voice of the crone, which pierced his ears like some sharp 
instrument. 

" Ha ! ha ! you fear me now," she cried. " By this, and this, 
the spell shall work," she added, describing, a circle in the air 
with her stick, then crossing it twice, and finally scattering over 
him a hand ml of grave dust, snatched from an adjoining hillock. 

" Now lead me quickly to the smaller cross, Nance," she 
added, in a low tone. 

Her grand-daughter complied, with a glance of deep commisera 
tion at. Richard, who remained stupefied at the ominous 
proceeding. 

(f Ah ! this must indeed be a witch !" he cried, recovering 
from the momentary shock. 

u So you are convinced at last," rejoined Nicholas. " I can 
take breath now the old hell-cat is gone. But she shall not 
escape us. Keep an eye upon her, while I see if Simon Sparshot, 
the beadle, be within the churchyard, and if so he shall take her 
into custody, and lock her in the cage." 

With this, he ran towards the throng, shouting lustily for the 
beadle. Presently a big, burly fellow, in a scarlet doublet, laced 
with gold, a black velvet cap trimmed with red ribands, yellow 
hose, and shoes with great roses in them, and bearing a long 
silver-headed staff, answered the summons, and upon being told 
why his services were required, immediately roared out at the top 
of a stentorian voice, " A witch, lads ! a witch !" 

All was astir in an instant. Robin Hood and his merry men, 
with the morris-dancers, rushed out of their bowers, and the 
whole churchyard was in agitation. Above the din was heard 
the loud voice of Simon Sparshot, still shouting, " A witch 1 
a witch ! Mother Chattox !" 

" Where where?" demanded several voices. 

"Yonder," replied Nicholas, pointing to the further cross. 

A general movement took place in that direction, the crowd 
being headed by the squire and the beadle, but when they came 
up, they found only Nan Redferne standing behind the obelisk. 

" Where the devil is the old witch gone, Dick?" cried Nicholas, 
in dismay. 

t( I thought I saw her standing there with her grand-daugh 
ter," replied Richard , " but in truth I did not watch very 
closely." 

" Search for her search for her," cried Nicholas. 

But neither behind the crosses, nor behind any monument, nor 
in any hole or corner, nor on the other side of the churchyard 



MOTHER CHATTOX. 113 

wall, nor at the back of the little hermitage or chapel, though all 
were quickly examined, could the old hag be found. 

On being questioned, Nan Redferne refused to say aught con 
cerning her grandmother's flight or place of concealment. 

u I begin to think there is some truth in that strange legend of 
the cross," said Nicholas. " Notwithstanding her blindness, the 
old hag must have managed to read the magic verse upon it, and 
so have rendered herself invisible. But we have got the young 
witch safe." 

" Yeigh, squoire I" responded Sparshot, who had seized hold 
of Nance " hoo be safe enough." 

" Nan Redferne is no witch," said Richard Assheton, authori 
tatively. 

u Neaw witch, Mester Ruchot 1" cried the beadle in amazement. 

" No more than any of these lasses around us/' said Richard. 
" Release her, Sparshot." 

" I forbid him to do so, till she has been examined," cried a 
sharp voice. And the next moment Master Potts was seen 
pushing his way through the crowd. " So you have found a 
witch, my masters. I heard your shouts, and hurried on as fast 
as I could. Just in tune, Master Nicholas just in time," he 
added, rubbing his hands gleefully. 

u Lemme go, Simon," besought Nance. 

rt Neaw, neaw, lass, that munnot be," rejoined Sparshot. 

" Help save me, Master Richard!" cried the young woman. 

By this time the crowd had gathered round her, yelling, 
hooting, and shaking their hands at her, as if about to tear her 
in pieces ; but Richard Assheton planted himself resolutely 
before her, and pushed back the foremost of them. 

" Remove her instantly to the Abbey, Sparshot," he cried, 
and let her be kept in safe custody till Sir Ralph has time to 
examine her Will that content you, masters ?" 

" Neaw neaw," responded several rough voices; " swim her I 
swim her !" 

" Quite right, my worthy friends, quite right," said Potts. 
" Primo, let us make sure she is a witch secundo, let us take her 
to the Abbey." 

u There can be no doubt as to her being a witch, Master Potts," 
rejoined Nicholas ; " her old grand-dame, Mother Chattox, has 
just vanished from our sight." 

" Has Mother Chattox been here?" cried Potts, opening his 
round eyes to their widest extent. 

" Not many minutes since," replied Nicholas. (t In fact, she 
may be here still for aught I know." 

" Here ! where?" cried Potts, looking round. 

" You wont discover her for ah 1 your quickness," replied 
Nicholas. " She has rendered herself invisible, by reciting the 
magical verses inscribed on that cross/' 

i 



114 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Indeed!" exclaimed the attorney, closely examining the mys 
terious inscriptions. " What strange, uncouth characters ! I can 
make neither head nor tail, unless it be the devil's tail, of them." 

At this moment a whoop was raised by Jem Device, who, 
having taken his little sister home, had returned to the sports on the 
green, and now formed part of the assemblage in the churchyard. 
Between the rival witch potentates, Mothers Demdike and 
Chattox, it has already been said a deadly enmity exist e^, and 
the feud was carried on with equal animosity by their descendants ; 
and though Jem himself came under the same suspicion as Nan 
Redferne, that circumstance created no tie of interest between 
them, but the contrary, and he was the most active of her assailants. 
He had set up the above-mentioned cry from observing a large 
rat running along the side of the wall. 

" Theere hoo goes," whooped Jem, "t' owd witch, i' th' shape 
ov a rotten ! loo-loo-loo !" 

Half the crowd started in pursuit of the animal, and twenty 
sticks were thrown at it, but a stone cast by Jem stayed its 
progress, and it was instantly despatched. It did not change, 
however, as was expected by the credulous hinds, into an old 
woman, and they gave vent to their disappointment and rage in 
renewed threats against Nan Redferne. The dead rat was hurled 
at her by Jem, but missing its mark, it hit Master Potts on the 
head, and nearly knocked him off the cross, upon which he had 
mounted to obtain a better view of the proceedings. Irritated by 
this circumstance, as well as by the failure of the experiment, the 
little attorney jumped down, and fell to kicking the unfortunate 
rat, after which, his fury being somewhat appeased, he turned to 
Nance, who had sunk for support against the pedestal, and said 
to her " If you will tell us what has become of the old witch 
your grandmother, and undertake to bear witness against her, you 
shall be set free." 

" Ey'n tell ye nowt, mon," replied Nance, doggedly. " Put me 
to onny trial ye like, ye shanna get a word fro me." 

" That remains to be seen," retorted Potts, " but I apprehend 
we shall make you speak, and pretty plainly too, before we've done 
with you. You hear what this perverse and wrong-headed young 
witch declares, masters," he shouted, again clambering upon the 
cross. " I have offered her liberty, on condition of disclosing to 
us the manner of her diabolical old relative's evasion, and she 
rejects it." 

An angry roar followed, mixed with cries from Jem Device, 
of " swim her ! swim her!" 

" You had better tell them what you know, Nance," said 
Richard, in a low tone, " or I shall have difficulty in preserving 
you from their fury." 

" Ey darena, Master Richard," she replied, shaking her head ; 
and then she added firmly, " Ey winna." 



MOTHER CHATTOX. 115 

Finding it useless to reason with her, and fearing also that the 
infuriated crowd might attempt to put their threats into execu 
tion, Richard turned to his cousin Nicholas, and said : " We must 
get her away, or violence will be done." 

" She does not deserve your compassion, Dick," replied Ni 
cholas ; " she is only a few degrees better than the old hag who 
has escaped. Sparshot here tells me she is noted for her skill in 
modelling clay figures." 

" Yeigh, that hoo be," replied the broad-faced beadle ; " hoo's 
unaccountable cliver ot that sort o' wark. A clay figger os big 
os a six months' barn, fashiont i' th' likeness o' Farmer Grimble 
o' Briercliffe lawnd, os died last month, war seen i' her cottage, 
an monny others besoide. Amongst 'em a moddle o' your la 
mented brother, Squoire Ruchot Assheton o' Downham, wi' 
t' yeod pood off, and th' 'eart pierct thro' an' thro' wi' pins and 
needles." 

" Ye lien i' your teeth, Simon Sparshot !" cried Nance, regard 
ing him furiously. 

" If the head were off, Simon, I don't see how the likeness to 
my poor brother could well be recognised," said Nicholas, with a 
half smile. " But let her be put to some mild trial weighed 
against the church Bible." 

" Be it so," replied Potts, jumping down ; t( but if that fail, we 
must have recourse to stronger measures. Take notice that, with 
all her fright, she has not been able to shed a tear, not a single 
tear a clear witch a clear witch !" 

u Ey*d scorn to weep fo t' like o' yo P cried Nance, disdain- 
folly, having now completely recovered her natural audacity. 

" We'll soon break your spirit, young woman, I can promise 
you," rejoined Potts. 

As soon as it was known what was about to occur, the whole 
<3rowd moved towards the church porch, Nan Redferne walking 
between Richard Assheton and the beadle, who kept hold of her 
arm to prevent any attempt at escape ; and by the time they 
reached the appointed place, Ben Baggiley, the baker, who had 
been despatched for the purpose, appeared with an enormous pair 
of wooden scales, while Sampson Harrop, the clerk, having 
visited the pulpit, came forth with the church Bible, an immense 
volume, bound in black, with great silver clasps. 

" Come, that's a good big Bible at all events," cried Potts, 
eyeing it with satisfaction. " It looks like my honourable and 
singular good Lord Chief -Justice Sir Edward Coke's learned 
' Institutes of the Laws of England,' only that that great legal 
tome is generally bound in calf law calf, as we say." 

" Large as the book is, it will scarce prove heavy enough to 
weigh down the witch, I opine," observed Nicholas, with a smile. 

We shall see, sir," replied Potts. " We shall see." 

By this time, the scales having been affixed to a hook in the 



116 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

porch by Baggiley, the sacred volume was placed on one side, and 
Nance set down by the beadle on the other. The result of the 
experiment was precisely what might have been anticipated 
the moment the young woman took her place in the balance, it 
sank down to the ground, while the other kicked the beam. 

" I hope you are satisfied now, Master Potts," cried Richard 
Assheton. u By your own trial her innocence is approved." 

" Your pardon, Master Richard, this is Squire Nicholas's trial, 
not mine," replied Potts. u I am for the ordeal of swimming. 
How say you, masters 1 Shall we be content with this doubtful 
experiment ? " 

" Neaw neaw," responded Jem Device, who acted as spokes 
man to the crowd, rt swim her swim her ! " 

"I knew you would have it so," said Potts, approvingly. 
" Where is a fitting place for the trial 1 " 

" Th' Abbey pool is nah fur off," replied Jem, " or ye con tay 
hertoth' Calder." 

" The river, by all means nothing like a running stream," 
said Potts. " Let cords be procured to bind her." 

" Run fo 'em quickly, Ben," said Jem to Baggiley, who was 
very zealous in the cause. 

" Oh ! " groaned Nance, again losing courage, and glancing 
piteously at Richard. 

ts No outrage like this shall be perpetrated," cried the young 
man, firmly ; "I call upon you, cousin Nicholas, to help me. Go- 
into the church," he added, thrusting Nance backward, and pre 
senting his sword at the breast of Jem Device, who attempted 
to follow her, and who retired muttering threats and curses ; 
te I will run the first man through the body who attempts to 
pass." 

As Nan Redferne made good her retreat, and shut the church- 
door after her, Master Potts, pale with rage, cried out to Richard,. 
" You have aided the escape of a desperate and notorious 
offender actually in custody, sir, and have rendered yourself 
liable to indictment for it, sir, with consequences of fine and im 
prisonment, sir heavy fine and long imprisonment, sir. Do you 
mark me, Master Richard?" 

" I will answer the consequences of my act to those empowered 
to question it, sir," replied Richard, sternly. 

" Well, sir, I have given you notice," rejoined Potts, " due 
notice. We shall hear what Sir Ralph will say to the matter, 
and Master Roger Nowell, and " 

" You forget me, good Master Potts," interrupted Nicholas, 
laughingly ; " I entirely disapprove of it. It is a most flagrant 
breach of duty. Nevertheless, I am glad the poor wench has 
got off." 

" She is safe within the church," said Potts, " and I command 
Master Richard, in the king's name, to let us pass. Beadle I 



MOTHER CHATTOX. 117 

Sharpshot, Sparshot, or whatever be your confounded name 
do your duty, sirrah. Enter the church, and bring forth the 
witch." 

" Ey darna, mester," replied Simon ; " young mester Ruchot 
ud slit mey weasand os soon os look ot men." 

Richard put an end to further altercation, by stepping back 
quickly, locking the door, and then taking out the key, and 
putting it into his pocket. 

" She is quite safe now," he cried, with a smile at the discom 
fited lawyer. 

"Is there no other door?" inquired Potts of the beadle, in 
a low tone. 

" Yeigh, theere be one ot t'other soide," replied Sparshot, "boh 
it be locked, ey reckon, an maybe hoo'n getten out that way." 

" Quick, quick, and let's see," cried Potts; " justice must not 
be thwarted in this shameful manner." 

While the greater part of the crowd set off after Potts and the 
beadle, Richard Assheton, anxious to know what had become of 
the fugitive, and determined not to abandon her while any danger 
existed, unlocked the church-door, and entered the holy struc 
ture, followed by Nicholas. On looking around, Nance was no 
where to be seen, neither did she answer to his repeated calls, and 
Richard concluded she must have escaped, when all at once a 
loud exulting shout was heard without, leaving no doubt that the 
poor young woman had again fallen into the hands of her captors. 
The next moment a sharp, piercing scream in a female key con 
firmed the supposition. On hearing this cry, Richard instantly 
new to the opposite door, through which Nance must have passed, 
but on trying it he found it fastened outside ; and filled with 
sudden misgiving, for he now recollected leaving the key in the 
other door, he called to Nicholas to come with him, and hurried 
back to it. His apprehensions were verified; the door was 
locked. At first Nicholas was inclined to laugh at the trick 
played them ; but a single look from Richard checked his ten 
dency to merriment, and he followed his young relative, who had 
sprung to a window looking upon that part of the churchyard 
whence the shouts came, and flung it open. Richard's egress, 
however, was prevented by an iron bar, and he called out loudly 
and fiercely to the beadle, whom he saw standing in the midst of 
the crowd, to unlock the door. 

" Have a little patience, good Master Richard," replied Potts, 
turning up his provoking little visage, now charged with trium 
phant malice. " You shall come out presently. We are busy 
just now engaged in binding the witch, as you see. Both keys 
are safely in my pocket, and I will send you one of them when 
we start for the river, good Master Richard. We lawyers art? 
not to be overreached you see ha ! ha !" 

"You shall repent this conduct when I do get out/' cried 



118 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHS&. 

Richard, furiously. " Sparshot, I command you to bring the key 
instantly." 

But, encouraged by the attorney, the beadle affected not to 
hear Richard's angry vociferations, and the others were unable to 
aid the young man, if they had been so disposed, and all were 
too much interested in what was going forward to run off to the 
vicarage, and acquaint Sir Ralph with the circumstances in which 
his relatives ".vere placed, even though enjoined to do so,, 

On being set free by Richard, Nance had flown quickly through 
the church, and passed out at the side door, and was making good 
her retreat at the back of the edifice, when her flying figure was 
descried by Jem Device, who, failing in his first attempt, had run 
round that way, fancying he should catch her. 

He instantly dashed after her with all the fury of a bloodhound, 
and, being possessed of remarkable activity, speedily overtook her, 
and, heedless of her threats and entreaties, secured her. 

(i Lemme go, Jem," she cried, " an ey win do thee a good turn 
one o' these days, when theaw may chonce to be i' th' same strait 
os me." But seeing him inexorable, she added, " My grand- 
dame shan rack thy boans sorely, lad, for this." 

Jem replied by a coarse laugh of defiance, and, dragging her 
along, delivered her to Master Potts and the beadle, who were then 
hurrying to the other door of the church. To prevent inter 
ruption, the cunning attorney, having ascertained that the two 
Asshetons were inside, instantly gave orders to have both doors 
locked, and the injunctions being promptly obeyed, he took 
possession of the keys himself, chuckling at the success of the strata 
gem. " A fair reprisal," he muttered ; " this young milksop shall 
find he is no match for a skilful lawyer like me. Now, the cords 
the cords !' 

It was at the sight of the bonds, which were quickly brought 
by Baggiley, that Nance uttered the piercing cry that had roused 
Richard's indignation. Feeling secure of his prisoner, and now 
no longer apprehensive of interruption, Master Potts was in no 
hurry to conclude the arrangements, but rather prolonged them 
to exasperate Richard. Little consideration was shown the un 
fortunate captive. The new shoes and stockings of which she 
had been so vain a short time before, were torn from her feet and 
limbs by the rude hands of the remorseless Jem and the beadle, 
and bent down by the main force of these two strong men, her 
thumbs and great toes were tightly bound together, crosswise, by 
the cords. The churchyard rang with her shrieks, and, with his 
blood boiling with indignation at the sight, Richard redoubled his 
exertions to burst through the window and fly to her assistance. 
But though Nicholas now lent his powerful aid to the task, their 
combined efforts to obtain liberation were unavailing ; and with 
rage almost amounting to frenzy, Richard beheld the poor young 
woman borne shrieking away by her captors. Nor was Nicholas 



THE ORDEAL B5T SWIMMING. 119 

much less incensed, and he swore a deep oath when he did get 
at liberty that Master Potts should pay dearly for liis rascally 
conduct. 



CHAPTER VI. THE ORDEAL BY SWIMMING. 

BOUND hand and foot in the painful posture before described, 
roughly and insolently handled on all sides, in peril of her life 
from the frightful ordeal to which she was about to be subjected, 
the miserable captive was borne along on the shoulders of Jem 
Device and Sparshot, her long, fine chestnut hair trailing upon 
the ground, her white shoulders exposed to the insolent gaze of 
the crowd, and her trim holiday attire torn to rags by the rough 
treatment she had experienced. Nance Redferne, it has been said, 
was a very comely young woman ; but neither her beauty, her 
youth, nor her sex, had any effect upon the ferocious crowd, who 
were too much accustomed to such brutal and debasing exhi 
bitions, to feel any thing but savage delight in the spectacle of a 
fellow-creature so scandalously treated and tormented, and the 
only excuse to be offered for their barbarity, is the firm belief they 
entertained that they were dealing with a witch. And when even 
in our own day so many revolting scenes are enacted to gratify 
the brutal passions of the mob, while prize-fights are tolerated, 
and wretched animals goaded on to tear each other in pieces, it is 
not to be wondered at that, in times of less enlightenment and re 
finement, greater cruelties should be practised. Indeed, it may 
be well to consider how far we have really advanced in civilisation 
since then ; for until cruelty, whether to man or beast, be wholly 
banished from our sports, we cannot justly reproach our ancestors, 
or congratulate ourselves on our improvement 

Nance's cries of distress were only answered by jeers, and re 
newed insults, and wearied out at length, the poor creature ceased 
struggling and shrieking, the dogged resolution she had before 
exhibited again coming to her aid. 

But her fortitude was to be yet more severely tested. Revealed 
by the disorder of her habiliments, and contrasting strongly with 
the extreme whiteness of her skin, a dun-coloured mole was dis 
covered upon her breast. It was pointed out to Potts by Jem 
Device, who declared it to be a witch-mark, and the spot where 
her familiar drained her blood. 

" This is one of the i good helps' to the discovery of a witch, 
pointed out by our sovereign lord the king," said the attorney, 
narrowly examining the spot. " ' The one,' saith our wise prince, 
' is the finding of their mark, and the trying the insensibleness 
thereof. The other is their fleeting on the water.* The water- 



120 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES 

ordeal will come presently, but the insensibility of the mark might 
be at once attested." 

" Yeigh, that con soon be tried," cried Jem, with a savage 
laugh. 

And taking a pin from his sleeve, the ruffian plunged it deeply 
into the poor creature's flesh. Nance winced, but she set her 
teeth hardly, and repressed the cry that must otherwise have been 
wrung from her. 

" A clear witch ! " cried Jem, drawing forth the pin ; (( not a 
drop o' blood flows, an hoo feels nowt !" 

fi Feel nowt?" rejoined Nance, between her ground teeth. 
" May ye ha a pang os sharp i* your cancart eart, ye villain." 

After this barbarous test, the crowd, confirmed by it in their 
notions of Nan's guiltiness, hurried on, their numbers increasing 
as they proceeded along the main street of the village leading to 
wards the river ; all the villagers left at home rushing forth on 
hearing a witch was about to be swum, and when they came within 
a bow-shot of the stream, Sparshot called to Baggiley to lay 
hold of Nance, while he himself, accompanied by several of the 
crowd, ran over the bridge, the part he had to enact requiring 
him to be on the other side of the water. 

Meantime, the main party turned down a little footpath pro 
tected by a gate on the left, which led between garden hedges to 
the grassy banks of the Calder, and in taking this course they 
passed by the cottage of Elizabeth Device. Hearing the shouts 
of the rabble, little Jennet, who had been in no very happy frame 
of mind since she had been brought home, came forth, and seeing 
her brother, called out to him, in her usual sharp- tones, " What's 
the matter, Jem? Who han ye getten there ?" 

" A witch," replied Jem, gruffly. " Nance Redferne, Mother 
Chattox's grand-daughter. Come an see her swum i' th' Calder." 

Jennet readily complied, for her curiosity was aroused, and she 
shared in the family feelings of dislike to Mother Chattox and 
her descendants. 

" Is this Nance Redferne?" she cried, keeping close to her 
brother, " Ey'm glad yo'n caught her at last. How dun ye find 
yersel, Nance ? " 

" 111 at ease, Jennet," replied Nance, with a bitter look ; f( boh 
it ill becomes ye to jeer me, lass, seein' yo're a born witch yoursel." 

" Aha!" cried Potts, looking at the little girl, " So this is a 
born witch eh, Nance?" 

" A born an' bred witch," rejoined Nance ; "jist as her brother 
Jem here is a wizard. They're the gran-childer o' Mother Dem- 
dike o' Pendle, the greatest witch i' these parts, an childer o' Bess 
Device, who's nah much better. Ask me to witness agen 'em, 
that's aw." 

" Howd thy tongue, woman, or ey'n drown thee," muttered Jem, 
in a tone of deep menace. 



THE ORDEAL BY SWIMMING. 2 

" Ye canna, mon, if ey'm the witch ye ca' me," rejoined Nance. 
u Jennet's tura'll come os weel os mine, one o' these days. Mark 
my words." 

"" Efore that ey shan see ye burned, ye faggot," cried Jennet, 
almost fiercely. 

" Ye'n getten the fiend's mark o' your sleeve," cried Nance. 
" Ey see it written i' letters ov blood." 

" That's where our cat scratted me," replied Jennet, hiding her 
arm quickly. 

"Good! very good!" observed Potts, rubbing his hands. 
" ' Who but witches can be proof against witches ? ' saith our 
sagacious sovereign. I shall make something of this girl. She 
seems a remarkably quick child remarkably quick ha, ha!" 

By this time, the party having gained the broad flat mead 
through which the Calder flowed, took their way quickly towards 
its banks, the spot selected for the ordeal lying about fifty yards 
above the weir, where the current, ordinarily rapid, was checked 
by the dam, offering a smooth surface, with considerable depth of 
water. If soft natural beauties could have subdued the hearts of 
those engaged in this cruel and wicked experiment, never was 
scene better calculated for the purpose than that under contem 
plation. Through a lovely green valley meandered the Calder, 
now winding round some verdant knoll, now washing the base 
of lofty heights feathered with timber to their very summits, now 
lost amid thick woods, and only discernible at intervals by a 
glimmer amongst the trees. Immediately in front of the assem 
blage rose Whalley Nab, its steep sides and brow partially covered 
with timber, with green patches in the uplands where sheep and 
cattle fed. Just below the spot where the crowd were collected, 
the stream, here of some width, passed over the weir, and swept 
in a foaming cascade over the huge stones supporting the dam, 
giving the rushing current the semblance and almost the beauty 
of a natural waterfall. Below this the stream ran brawling on in 
a wider, but shallower channel, making pleasant music as it went, 
and leaving many dry beds of sand and gravel in the midst; while 
a hundred yards lower down, it was crossed by the arches of the 
bridge. Further still, a row of tall cypresses lined the bank of 
the river, and screened that part of the Abbey, converted into a 
residence by the Asshetons ; and after this carne the ruins of the 
refectory, the cloisters, the dormitory, the conventual church, and 
other parts of the venerable structure, overshadowed by noble 
lime-trees and elms. Lovelier or more peaceful scene could not 
be imagined. The green meads, the bright clear stream, with its 
white foaming weir, the woody heights reflected in the glassy 
waters, the picturesque old bridge, and the dark grey ruins 
beyond it, all might have engaged the attention and melted the 
heart. Then the hour, when evening was coming on, and when 
each beautiful object, deriving new beauty from the medium 



1 22 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

through which it was viewed, exercised a softening influence, and 
awakened kindly emotions. To most the scene was familiar, and 
therefore could have no charm of novelty. To Potts, however, it 
was altogether new; but he was susceptible of few gentle impres 
sions, and neither the tender beauty of the evening, nor the wooing 
loveliness of the spot, awakened any responsive emotion in his 
breast. He was dead to every thing except the ruthless experi 
ment about to be made. ' 

Almost at the same time that Jem Device and his party 
reached the near bank of the stream, the beadle and the others 
appeared on the opposite side. Little was said, but instant pre 
parations were made for the ordeal. Two long coils of rope 
having been brought by Baggiley, one of them was made fast to 
the right arm of the victim, and the other to the left ; and this 
done, Jem Device, shouting to Sparshot to look out, flung one 
coil of rope across the river, where it was caught with much dex 
terity by the beadle. The assemblage then spread out on the 
bank, while Jem, taking the poor young woman in his arms, who 
neither spoke nor struggled, but held her breath tightly, approached 
the river. 

" Dunna drown her, Jem," said Jennet, who had turned very 
pale. 

" Be quiet, wench," rejoined Jem, gruffly. 

And without bestowing further attention upon her, he let down 
his burden carefully into the water ; and this achieved, he called 
out to the beadle, who drew her slowly towards him, while Jem 
guided her with the other rope. 

The crowd watched the experiment for a few moments in pro 
found silence, but as the poor young woman, who had now reached 
the centre of the stream, still floated, being supported either by 
the tension of the cords, or by her woollen apparel, a loud shout 
was raised that she could not sink, and was, therefore, an unde 
niable witch. 

" Steady, lads steady a moment," cried Potts, enchanted with 
the success of the experiment ; " leave her where she is, that her 
buoyancy may be fully attested. You know, masters," he cried, with 
a loud voice, t( the meaning of this water ordeal. Our sovereign 
lord and master the king, in his wisdom, hath graciously vouch 
safed to explain the matter thus : ' Water,' he saith, ' shaU refuse 
to receive them (meaning witches, of course) in her bosom, that 
have shaken oft' their sacred water of baptism, and wilfully refused 
the benefit thereof.' It is manifest, you see, that this diabolical 
young woman hath renounced her baptism, for the water rejecteth 
her. Non potest mergi, as Pliny saith. She floats like a cork, 
or as if the clear water of the Calder had suddenly become like 
the slab, salt waves of the Dead Sea, in which nothing can sink. 
You behold the marvel with your own eyes, my masters." 
" Ay, ay !" rejoined Baggiley and several others. 



THE OKPEAJ, BY SWIMMING. 123 

"Hoo be a witch fo sartm," cried Jem Device. But as he 
spoke, chancing slightly to slacken the rope, the tension of which 
maintained the equilibrium of the body, the poor woman instantly 
sank. 

A groan, as much of disappointment as sympathy, broke from 
the spectators, but none attempted to aid her ; and on seeing her 
sink, Jem abandoned the rope altogether. 

But assistance was at hand. Two persons rushed quickly and 
furiously to the spot. They were Richard and Nicholas Assheton. 
The iron bar had at length yielded to their efforts, and the first 
use they made of their freedom was to hurry to the river. A 
glance showed them what had occurred, and the younger Assheton, 
unhesitatingly plunging into the water, seized the rope dropped 
by Jem, and calling to the beadle to let go his hold, dragged forth 
the poor half-drowned young woman, and placed her on the bank, 
hewing asunder the cords that bound her hands and feet with his 
sword. But though still sensible, Nance was so much exhausted 
by the shock she had undergone, and her muscles were so severely 
strained by the painful and unnatural posture to which she had 
been compelled, that she was wholly unable to move. Her thumbs 
were blackened and swollen, and the cords had cut into the flesh, 
while blood trickled down from the puncture in her breast. Fix 
ing a look of inexpressible gratitude upon her preserver, she made 
an effort to speak, but the exertion was too great; violent hys 
terical sobbing came on, and her senses soon after forsook her. 
Richard called loudly for assistance, and the sentiments of the 
most humane part of the crowd having undergone a change since 
the failure of the ordeal, some females came forward, and took 
steps for her restoration. Sensibility having returned, a cloak 
was wrapped around her, and she was conveyed to a neighbouring 
cottage and put to bed, where her stiffened limbs were chafed and 
warm drinks administered, and it began to be hoped that no serious 
consequences would ensue. 

Meanwhile, a catastrophe had wellnigh occurred in another 
quarter. With eyes flashing with fury, Nicholas Assheton pushed 
aside the crowd, and made his way to the bank whereon Master 
Potts stood. Not liking his looks, the little attorney would have 
taken to his heels, but finding escape impossible, he caUed upon 
Baggiley to protect him. But he was instantly in the forcible 
gripe of the squire, who shouted, " I'll teach you, mongrel hound, 
to play tricks with gentlemen." 

u Master Nicholas," cried the terrified and half-strangled attor 
ney, " my very good sir, I entreat you to let me alone. This is 
a breach of the king's peace, sir. Assault and battery, under 
aggravated circumstances, and punishable with ignominious cor 
poral penalties, besides fine and imprisonment, sir. I take you to 
witness the assault, Master Baggiley. I shall bring my ac ac 
ah o o oh!" 



124 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Then you shall have something to bring your ac ac action 
for, rascal," cried Nicholas. And, seizing the attorney by the nape 
of the neck with one hand, and the hind wings of his doublet with 
the other, he cast him to a considerable distance into the river, 
where he fell with a tremendous splash. 

" He is no wizard, at all events," laughed Nicholas, as Potts 
went down like a lump of lead. 

But the attorney was not born to be drowned ; at least, at>this 
period of his career. On rising to the surface, a few seconds 
after his immersion, he roared lustily for help, but would infallibly 
have been carried over the weir, if Jem Device had not flung him 
the rope now disengaged from Nance Redferne, and which he 
succeeded in catching. In this way he was dragged out ; and as 
he crept up the bank, with the wet pouring from his apparel, 
which now clung tightly to his lathy limbs, he was greeted by the 
jeers of Nicholas. 

" How like you the water-ordeal eh, Master Attorney? No 
occasion for a second trial, I think. If Jem Device had known 
his own interest, he would have left you to fatten the Calder eels ; 
but he will find it out in time." 

" You will find it out too, Master Nicholas," rejoined Potts, 
clapping on his wet cap. " Take me to the Dragon quickly, good 
fellow," he added, to Jem Device, " and I will recompense thee 
for thy pains, as well as for the service thou hast just rendered 
me. I shall have rheumatism in my joints, pains in my loins, and 
rheum in my head, oh dear oh dear !" 

" In which case you will not be able to pay Mother Demdike 
your purposed visit to-morrow," jeered Nicholas. " You forgot you 
were to arrest her, and bring her before a magistrate." 

u Thy arm, good fellow, thy arm !" said Potts, to Jem Device. 

" To the fiend wi' thee," cried Jem, shaking him off roughly. 
" The squoire is reet. Wouldee had let thee drown," 

" What, have you changed your mind already, Jem?" cried 
Nicholas, in a taunting tone. " You'll have your grandmother's 
thanks for the service you've rendered her, lad ha ! ha !" 

" Fo' t' matter o' two pins ey'd pitch him again," growled Jem, 
eyeing the attorney askance. 

" No, no, Jem," observed Nicholas, rt things must take their 
course. What's done is done. But if Master Potts be wise, he'll 
iake himself out of court without delay." 

" You'll be glad to get me out of court one of these days, 
squire," muttered Potts, u and so will you too, Master James 
Device. A day of reckoning will come for both heavy reckon 
ing. Ugh ! ugh !" he added, shivering, " how my teeth chatter !" 

66 Make what haste you can to the Dragon," cried the good- 
natured squire ; " get your clothes dried, and bid John Lawe brew 
you a pottle of strong sack, swallow it scalding hot, and you'll 
never look behind you." 



THE ORDEAL BY SWIMMING. 125 

" Nor before me either," retorted Potts, " Scalding sack I 
This bloodthirsty squire has a new design upon my life!" 

" Ey'n go wi' ye to th' Dragon, mester," said Baggiley ; " lean 
o' me." 

" Thanke'e friend," replied Potts, taking his arm. " A word 
at parting, Master Nicholas. This is not the only discovery of 
witchcraft I've made. I've another case, somewhat nearer home. 
Ha! ha!" 

With this, he hobbled off in the direction of the alehouse, his 
steps being traceable along the dusty road like the course of a 
watering-cart. 

" Ey'n go efter him," growled Jem. 

u No you won't, lad," rejoined Nicholas, **and if you'll take my 
advice, you'll get out of Whalley as fast as you can. You will be 
safer on the heath of Pendle than here, when Sir Ralph and 
Master Roger Nowell come to know what has taken place. And 
mind this, sirrah the hounds will be out in the forest to-morrow. 
D'ye heed?" 

Jem growled something in reply, and, seizing his little sister's 
hand, strode off with her towards his mother's dwelling, uttering 
not a word by the way. 

Having seen Nance Redferne conveyed to the cottage, as 
before mentioned, Richard Assheton, regardless of the wet state 
of his own apparel, now joined his cousin, the squire, and they 
walked to the Abbey together, conversing on what had taken 
place, while the crowd dispersed, some returning to the bowers in 
the churchyard, and others to the green, their merriment in 
nowise damped by the recent occurrences, which they looked 
upon as part of the day's sport. As some of them passed by> 
laughing, singing, and dancing, Richard Assheton remarked, u I 
can scarcely believe these to be the same people I so lately saw 
in the churchyard. They then seemed totally devoid of humanity " 

" Pshaw ! they are humane enough," rejoined Nicholas ; " but 
you cannot expect them to show mercy to a witch, any more than 
to a wolf, or other savage and devouring beast." 

u But the means taken to prove her guilt were as absurd as 
iniquitous," said Richard, " and savour of the barbarous ages. 
If she had perished, all concerned in the trial would have been 
guilty of murder." 

fi But no judge would condemn them," returned Nicholas ; 
"and they have the highest authority in the realm to uphold 
them. As to leniency to witches, in a general way, I would show 
none. Traitors alike to God and man, and bond slaves of Satan, 
they are out of the pale of Christian charity." 

" No criminal, however great, is out of the pale of Christian 
charity," replied Richard ; but such scenes as we have just 
witnessed are a disgrace to humanity, and a mockery of justice. 
In seeking to discover and punish one offence, a greater is com- 



126 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

mitted. Suppose this poor young woman really guilty what 
then V Our laws are made for protection, as well as punishment of 
wrong. She should be arraigned, convicted, and condemned 
before punishment. 1 " 

" Our laws admit of torture, Richard," observed Nicholas. 

" True," said the young man, with a shudder, u and it is 
another relic of a ruthless age. But torture is only allowed under 
the eye of the law, and can be inflicted by none but its sworn 
servants. But, supposing this poor young woman innocent of the 
crime imputed to her, which I really believe her to be, how, then, 
will you excuse the atrocities to which she has been subjected?" 

" I do not believe her innocent," rejoined Nicholas ; " hei 
relationship to a notorious witch, and her fabrication of clay 
images, make her justly suspected." 

" Then let her be examined by a magistrate," said Richard ; 
46 but, even then, woe betide her ! When I think that Alizon 
Device is liable to the same atrocious treatment, in consequence 
of her relationship to Mother Demdike, I can scarce contain my 
indignation." 

te It is unlucky for her, indeed/' rejoined Nicholas ; " but of all 
Nance's assailants the most infuriated was Alizon's brother, Jem 
Device." 

" I saw it," cried Richard an uneasy expression passing over 
his countenance. " Would she could be removed from that 
family ! v 

" To what purpose?" demanded Nicholas, quickly. "Her 
family are more likely to be removed from her if Master Potts 
stay in the neighbourhood." 

" Poor girl !" exclaimed Richard. 

And he fell into a reverie which was not broken till they reached 
the Abbey. 

To return to Jem Device. On reaching the cottage, the 
ruffian flung himself into a chair, and for a time seemed lost in 
reflection. At last he looked up, and said gruffly to Jennet, 
who stood watching him, " See if mother be come whoam ?" 

" Eigh, eigh, ey'm here, Jem," said Elizabeth Device, opening 
the inner door and coming forth. tf So, ye ha been swimmin' 
Nance Redferne, lad, eh ! Ey'm glad on it ha ! ha !" 

Jem gave her a significant look, upon which she motioned 
Jennet to withdraw, and the injunction being complied with, 
though with evident reluctance, by the little girl, she closed the 
door upon her. 

" Now, Jem, what hast got to say to me, lad, eh ? " demanded 
Elizabeth, stepping up to him. 

u Neaw great deal, mother," he replied ; " boh ey keawnsel ye 
to look weel efter yersel. We're aw i' dawnger." 

u Ey knoas it, lad, ey knoas it," replied Elizabeth ; " boh fo my 
own pert ey'm nah afeerd. They darna touch me ; an' if they 



THE ORDEAL BY SWIMMING. 127 

dun, ey con defend mysel reet weel. Here's a letter to thy gran- 
mother," she added, giving him a sealed packet. " Take care 
on it." ' 

" Fro Mistress Nutter, ey suppose ? " asked Jem. 
u Eigh, who else should it be from ? rejoined Elizabeth. 
" Your gran-mother win' ha' enough to do to neet, an so win yo, 
too, Jem, lettin alone the walk fro here to Malkin Tower." 

" Weel, gi' me mey supper, an ey'n set out," rejoined Jem. 
" So ye ha' seen Mistress Nutter?" 

" Ey found her i' th' Abbey garden," replied Elizabeth, " an we 
had some tawk together, abowt th' boundary line o' th' Rough 
Lee estates, and other matters." 

And, as she spoke, she set a cold pasty, with oat cakes, cheese, 
and butter, before her son, and next proceeded to draw him a jug 
of ale. 

"What other matters dun you mean, mother?" in 
quired Jem, attacking the pasty. u War it owt relatin' to that 
little Lunnon lawyer, Mester Potts ?" 

" Theawst hit it, Jem," replied Elizabeth, seating herself near 
him. u That Potts means to visit thy gran-mother to morrow." 
" Weel ! " said Jem, grimly. 
u An arrest her," pursued Elizabeth. 

" Easily said," laughed Jem, scornfully, " boh neaw quite so 
easily done." 

" Nah quite, Jem," responded Elizabeth, joining in the laugh. 
" 'Specially when th' owd dame's prepared, as she win be now." 

" Potts may set out 'o that journey, boh he winna come back 
again," remarked Jem, in a sombre tone. 

" Wait till yo'n seen your gran-mother efore ye do owt, lad," 
said Elizabeth. 

" Ay, wait," added a voice. 

" What's that ? " demanded Jem, laying down his knife and 
fork. 

Elizabeth did not answer in words, but her significant looks 
were quite response enough for her son. 

" Os ye win, mother," he said in an altered tone. After a 
pause, employed in eating, he added, " Did Mistress Nutter put 
onny questions to ye about Alizon ? " 

" More nor enough, lad," replied Elizabeth ; " fo what had ey 
to tell her ? She praised her beauty, an said how unlike she wur 
to Jennet an thee, lad ha ! ha ! AJL wondert how ey cum to ha 
such a dowter, an monny other things besoide. An what could 
ey say to it aw, except " 

" Except what, mother?" interrupted Jem. 
" Except that she wur my child just os much os Jennet an 
thee I" 

" Humph !" exclaimed Jem. 

" Humph !" echoed the voice that had previously spoken. 



128 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Jem looked at his mother, and took a long pull at the ale-jug. 

(( Any more messages to Malkin Tower I" he asked, getting 
up. 

" Neaw mother will onderstond," replied Elizabeth. " Bid 
her be on her guard, fo' the enemy is abroad." 

"Meanin' Potts?" said Jem. 

" Meaning Potts," answered the voice. 

" There are strange echoes here," said Jem, looking^ round 
suspiciously. 

At this moment, Tib came from under a piece of furniture, 
where he had apparently been lying, and rubbed himself familiarly 
against his legs. 

" Ey needna be afeerd o' owt happenin to ye, mother," said 
Jem, patting the cat's back. u Tib win tay care on yo." 

" Eigh, eigh," replied Elizabeth, bending down to pat him, 
l( he's a trusty cat." But the ill-tempered animal would not be 
propitiated, but erected his back, and menaced her with his 
claws. 

" Yo han offended him, mother," said Jem. e( One word efore 
ey start. Are ye quite sure Potts didna owerhear your conver 
sation wi' Mistress Nutter?" 

" Why d'ye ask, Jem f " she replied. 

" Fro' summat the knave threw out to Squoire Nicholas just 
now," rejoined Jem. " He said he'd another case o' witchcraft 
nearer whoam* Whot could he mean?" 

" Whot, indeed?" cried Elizabeth, quickly. 

" Look at Tib," exclaimed her son. 

As he spoke, the cat sprang towards the inner door, and 
scratched violently against it. 

Elizabeth immediately raised the latch, and found Jennet 
behind it, with a face like scarlet. 

" Yo'n been listenin, ye young eavesdropper," cried Elizabeth, 
boxing her ears soundly ; " take that fo' your pains an that." 

" Touch me again, an Mester Potts shan knoa aw ey'n heer'd," 
said the little girl, repressing her tears. 

Elizabeth regarded her angrily ; but the looks of the child 
were so spiteful, that she did not dare to strike her. She glanced 
too at Tib ; but the uncertain cat was now rubbing himself in the 
most friendly manner against Jennet. 

" Yo shan pay for this, lass, presently," said Elizabeth. 

" Best nah provoke me, mother," rejoined Jennet in a deter 
mined tone ; " if ye dun, aw secrets shan out. Ey knoa why 
Jem's goin' to MalMn-Tower to-neet an why yo're afeerd o* 
Mester Potts." 

u Howd thy tongue or ey'n choke thee, little pest," cried her 
mother, fiercely. 

Jennet replied with a mocking laugh, while Tib rubbed against 
her more fondly than ever. 



THE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH. 129 

" Let her alone/' interposed Jem. " An now ey mun be off. 
So, fare ye weel, mother, an yo, too, Jennet." And with this, 
he put on his cap, seized his cudgel, and quitted the cottage. 



CHAPTER VII. THE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH. 

BENEATH a wild cherry-tree, planted by chance in the Abbey 
gardens, and of such remarkable size that it almost rivalled the 
elms and lime trees surrounding it, and when in bloom resembled 
an enormous garland, stood two young maidens, both of rare 
beauty, though in totally different styles ; the one being fair- 
haired and blue-eyed, with a snowy skin tinged with delicate 
bloom, like that of roses seen through milk, to borrow a simile 
from old Anacreon; while the other far eclipsed her in the 
brilliancy of her complexion, the dark splendour of her eyes, and 
the luxuriance of her jetty tresses, which, unbound and knotted 
with ribands, flowed down almost to the ground. In age, there 
was little disparity between them, though perhaps the dark-haired 
girl might be a year nearer twenty than the other, and somewhat 
more of seriousness, though not much, sat upon her lovely coun 
tenance than on the other's laughing features. Different were 
they too, in degree, and here social position was infinitely in 
favour of the fairer girl, but no one would have judged it so if not 
previously acquainted with their history. Indeed, it was rather 
the one having least title to be proud (if any one has such title) 
who now seemed to look up to her companion with mingled 
admiration and regard ; the latter being enthralled at the moment 
by the rich notes of a thrush poured from a neighbouring lime-tree. 

Pleasant was the garden where the two girls stood, shaded by 
great trees, laid out in exquisite parterres, with knots and figures, 
quaint flower-beds, shorn trees and hedges, covered alleys and 
arbours, terraces and mounds, in the taste of the time, and above 
all an admirably kept bowling-green. It was bounded on the one 
hand by the ruined chapter-house and vestry of the old monastic 
structure, and on the other by the stately pile of buildings 
formerly making part of the Abbot's lodging, in which the long 
gallery was situated, some of its windows looking upon the 
bowling-green, and then kept in excellent condition, but now 
roofless and desolate. Behind them, on the right, half hidden by 
trees, lay the desecrated and despoiled conventual church. 
Reared at such cost, and with so much magnificence, by thirteen 
abbots the great work having been commenced, as heretofore 
stated, by Robert de Topcliffe, in 1330, and only completed in all 
its details by John Paslew; this splendid structure, surpassing, 
according to Whi taker, " many cathedrals in extent," was now 
abandoned to the slow ravages of decay. Would it had never en- 

K 



130 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

countered worse enemy ! But some half century later, the hand 
of man was called in to accelerate its destruction, and it was then 
almost entirely rased to the ground. - At the period in question, 
though partially unroofed, and with some of the walls destroyed, 
it was still beautiful and picturesque more picturesque, indeed, 
than in the days of its pride and splendour. The tower with its 
lofty crocketed spire was still standing, though the latter was 
cracked and tottering, and the jackdaws roosted within its windows 
and belfry. Two ranges of broken columns told of the bygone 
glories of the aisles ; and the beautiful side chapels having 
escaped injury better than other parts of the fabric, remained in 
tolerable preservation. But the choir and high altar were 
stripped of all their rich carving and ornaments, and the rain 
descended through the open rood-loft upon the now grass-grown 
g*uves of the abbots in the presbytery. Here and there the 
ramitied mullions still retained their wealth of painted glass, and 
the grand eastern window shone gorgeously as of yore. All else 
was neglect and ruin. Briers and turf usurped the place of 
the marble pavement ; many of the pillars were festooned with 
ivy ; and, in some places, the shattered walls were covered with 
creepers, and trees had taken root in the crevices of the masonry. 
Beautiful at all times were these magnificent ruins ; but never so 
beautiful as when seen by the witching light of the moon the 
hour, according to the best authority, when all ruins should be 
viewed when the long lines of broken pillars, the mouldering 
arches, and the still glowing panes over the altar, had a magical effect. 

In front of the maidens stood a square tower, part of the 
defences of the religious establishment, erected by Abbot Lynde- 
lay, in the reign of Edward III., but disused and decaying. It 
was sustained by high and richly groined arches, crossing the 
swift mill-race, and faced the river. A path led through the 
ruined chapter-house to the spacious cloister quadrangle, once 
used as a cemetery for the monks, but now converted into a 
kitchen garden, its broad area being planted out, and fruit-trees 
trained against the hoary walls. Little of the old refectory was 
left, except the dilapidated stairs once conducting to the gallery 
where the brethren were wont to take their meals, but the inner 
wall still served to enclose the garden on that side. Of the dor 
mitory, formerly constituting the eastern angle of the cloisters, 
the shell was still left, and it was used partly as a grange, partly 
as a shed for cattle, the farm-yard and tenements lying on this 
side. 

Thus it will be seen that the garden and grounds, filling up 
the ruins of Whalley Abbey, offered abundant points of picturesque 
attraction, all of which with the exception of the ruined 
conventual church had been visited by the two girls. They 
had tracked the labyrinths of passages, scaled the broken stair 
cases, crept into the roofless and neglected chambers, peered 



TTTE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH. 131 

timorously into the black and yawning vaults, and now, having 
finished their investigations, had paused for awhile, previous to 
extending their ramble to the church, beneath the wild 
cherry-tree to listen to the warbling of the birds. 

" You should hear the nightingales at Middleton, Alizon," 
observed Dorothy Assheton, breaking silence ; " they sing even 
more exquisitely than yon thrush. You must come and see me. 
I should like to show you the old house and gardens, though they 
are very different from these, and we have no ancient monastic 
ruins to ornament them. Still, they are very beautiful ; and,, as 
I find you are fond of flowers, I will show you some I have 
reared myself, for I am something of a gardener, Alizon. Promise 
you will come." 

" I wish I dared promise it," replied Alizon. 

" And why not, then f " cried Dorothy. (i What should pre 
vent you ? Do you know, Alizon, what 1 should like better than 
all ? You are so amiable, and so good, and so so very pretty ; 
nay, don't blush there is no one by to hear me you are so 
charming altogether, that I should like you to come and live with 
me. You shall be my handmaiden if you will." 

"I should desire nothing better, sweet young lady," replied 
Alizon; "but" 

"But what?" cried Dorothy. "You have only your own 
consent to obtain." 

" Alas I I have," replied Alizon. 

"How can that be !" cried Dorothy, with a disappointed look. 
" It is not likely your mother will stand in the way of your ad 
vancement, and you have not, I suppose, any other tie ? Nay, 
forgive me if I appear too inquisitive. My curiosity only pro 
ceeds from the interest I take in you." 

" I know it I feel it, dear, kind young lady," replied Alizon, 
with the colour again mounting her cheeks. " I have no tie in 
the world except my family. But I am persuaded my mother 
will never allow me to quit her, however great the advantage 
might be to me." 

" Well, though sorry, I am scarcely surprised at it," said 
Dorothy. i( She must love you too dearly to part with you." 

" I wish I could think so," sighed Alizon. " Proud of me in 
some sort, though with little reason, she may be, but love me, 
most assuredly, she does not. Nay more, I am persuaded'she 
would be glad to be freed from my presence, which is an evident 
restraint and annoyance to her, were it not for some motive 
stronger than natural affection that binds her to me." 

" Now, in good sooth, you amaze me, Alizon !" cried Dorothy. 
46 What possible motive can it be, if not of affection ?" 

" Of interest, I think," replied Alizon. " I speak to you with 
out reserve, dear young lady, for the sympathy you have shown 



132 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

me deserves and demands confidence on my part, and there are 
none with whom I can freely converse, so that every emotion has 
been locked up in my own bosom. My mother fancies I shall 
one day be of use to her, and therefore keeps me with her. 
Hints to this effect she has thrown out, when indulging in the 
uncontrollable fits of passion to which she is liable. And yet I 
have no just reason to complain ; for though she has shown me 
little maternal tenderness, and repelled all exhibition of affection 
on my part, she has treated me very differently from her other 
children, and with much greater consideration. I can make slight 
boast of education, but the best the village could afford has been 
given me ; and I have derived much religious culture from good 
Doctor Ormerod. The kind ladies of the vicarage proposed, as 
you have done, that I should live with them, but my mother for 
bade it ; enjoining me, on the peril of incurring her displeasure, 
not to leave her, and reminding me of all the benefits 1 have 
received from her, and of the necessity of making an adequate 
return. And, ungrateful indeed I should be, if I did not comply; 
for, though her manner is harsh and cold to me, she has never 
ill-used me, as she has done her favourite child, my little sister 
Jennet, but has always allowed me a separate chamber, where I 
can retire when I please, to read, or meditate, or pray. For, 
alas ! dear young lady, I dare not pray before my mother. Be 
not shocked at what I tell you, but I cannot hide it. My poor 
mother denies herself the consolation of religion never addresses 
herself to Heaven in prayer never opens the book of Life and 
Truth never enters church. In her own mistaken way she has 
brought up poor little Jennet, who has been taught to make a 
scoff at religious truths and ordinances, and has never been 
suffered to keep holy the Sabbath-day. Happy and thankful am 
I, that no such evil lessons have been taught me, but rather, that 
1 have profited by the sad example. In my own secret chamber 
I have prayed, daily and nightly, for both prayed that their 
hearts might be turned. Often have I besought my mother to 
Jet me take Jennet to church, but she never would consent. And 
in that poor misguided child, dear young lady, there is a strange 
mixture of good and ill. Afflicted with personal deformity, and 
delicate in health, the mind perhaps sympathising with the body, 
she is wayward and uncertain in temper, but sensitive and keenly 
alive to kindness, and with a shrewdness beyond her years. At 
the risk of offending my mother, for I felt confident I was acting 
rightly, I have endeavoured to instil religious principles into her 
heart, and to inspire her with a love of truth. Sometimes she 
has listened to me ; and I have observed strange struggles in her 
nature, as if the good were obtaining mastery of the evil prin 
ciple, and I have striven the more to convince her, and win her 
over, but never with entire success, for my efforts have been 



THE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH. 133 

overcome by pernicious counsels, and sceptical sneers. Oh, lear 
young lady, what would I not do to be the instrument of her 
salvation !" 

" You pain me much by this relation, Alizon," said Dorothy 
Assheton, who had listened with profound attention, c( and I now 
wish more ardently than ever to take you from such a family." 

(t I cannot leave them, dear young lady," replied Alizon ; " for 
I feel I may be of infinite service especially to Jennet by 
staying with them. Where there is a soul to be saved, especially 
the soul of one dear as a sister, no sacrifice can be too great to 
make no price too heavy to pay. By the blessing of Heaven I 
hope to save her ! And that is the great tie that binds me to a 
home, only so in name." 

"I will not oppose your virtuous intentions, dear Alizon," 
replied Dorothy ; " but I must now mention a circumstance in 
connexion with your mother, of which you are perhaps in igno 
rance, but which it is right you should know, and therefore no 
false delicacy on my part shall restrain me from mentioning it. 
Your grandmother, Old Demdike, is in very ill repute in Pendle, 
and is stigmatised by the common folk, and even by others, as a 
witch. Your mother, too, shares in the opprobrium attaching 
to her." 

"I dreaded this," replied Alizon, turning deadly pale, and 
trembling violently, (( I feared you had heard the terrible report. 
But oh, believe it not ! My poor mother is erring enough, but 
she is not so bad as that. Oh, believe it not !" 

" I will not believe it," said Dorothy, et since she is blessed with 
such a daughter as you. But what I fear is that you you so 
kind, so good, so beautiful may come under the same ban." 

u I must run this risk also, in the good work I have appointed 
myself," replied Alizon. If I am ill thought of by men, I shah 1 
have the approval of my own conscience to uphold me. What 
ever betide, and whatever be said, do not you think ill of me, 
dear young lady." 

u Fear it not," returned Dorothy, earnestly. 

While thus conversing, they gradually strayed away from the 
cherry-tree, and taking a winding path leading in that direction, 
entered the conventual church, about the middle of the south 
aisle. After gazing with wonder and delight at the still majestic 
pillars, that, like ghosts of the departed brethren, seemed to 
protest against the desolation around them, they took their way 
along the nave, through broken arches, and over prostrate frag 
ments of stone, to the eastern extremity of the fane, and having 
admired the light shafts and clerestory windows of the choir, as 
well as the magnificent painted glass over the altar, they stopped 
before an arched doorway on the right, with two Gothic niches, 
in one of which was a small stone statue of Saint Agnes with 
her lamb, and in the other a similar representation of Saint 



134 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Margaret, crowned, and piercing the dragon with a cross. Both 
were sculptures of much merit, and it was wonderful they had 
escaped destruction. The door was closed, but it easily opened 
when tried by Dorothy, and they found themselves in a small but 
beautiful chapel. What struck them chiefly in it was a magni 
ficent monument of white marble, enriched with numerous small 
shields, painted and gilt, supporting two recumbent figures, 
representing Henry de Lacy, one of the founders of the Abbey, 
and his consort. The knight was cased in plate armour, covered 
with a surcoat, emblazoned with his arms, and his feet resting 
upon a hound. This superb monument was wholly uninjured, 
the painting and gilding being still fresh and bright. Behind it 
a flag had been removed, discovering a flight of steep stone steps, 
leading to a vault, or other subterranean chamber. 

After looking round this chapel, Dorothy remarked, " There is 
something else that has just occurred to me. When a child, a 
strange dark tale was told me, to the effect that the last ill-fated 
Abbot of Whalley laid his dying curse upon your grandmother, 
then an infant, predicting that she should be a witch, and the 
mother of witches." 

" I have heard the dread tradition, too," rejoined Alizon; "but 
I cannot, will not, believe it. An all-benign Power will never 
sanction such terrible imprecations." 

" Far be it from me to affirm the contrary," replied Dorothy ; 
" but it is undoubted that some families have been, and are, under 
the influence of an inevitable fatality. In one respect, connected 
also with the same unfortunate prelate, I might instance our own 
family. Abbot Paslew is said to be unlucky to us even in his 
grave. If such a curse, as I have described, hangs over the head 
of your family, all your efforts to remove it will be ineffectual." 

" I trust not," said Alizon. u Oh ! dear young lady, you have 
now penetrated the secret of my heart. The mystery of my life 
is laid open to you. Disguise it as I may, I cannot but believe 
my mother to be under some baneful influence. Her unholy life, 
her strange actions, all impress me with the idea. And there is 
the same tendency in Jennet." 

" You have a brother, have you not ? " inquired Dorothy. 

" I have," returned Alizon, slightly colouring; " but I see little 
of him, for he lives near my grandmother, in Pendle Forest, and 
always avoids me in his rare visits here. You will think it 
strange when I tell you I have never beheld my grandmother 
Demdike." 

66 1 am glad to hear it," exclaimed Dorothy. 

" I have never even been to Pendle," pursued Alizon, " though 
Jennet and my mother go there frequently. At one time I much 
wished to see my aged relative, and pressed my mother to take 
ine with her; but she refused, and now I have no desire to go." 

" Strange!" exclaimed Dorothy. " Every thing you tell me 



THE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH. 135 

strengthens the idea I conceived, the moment I saw you, and 
which my brother also entertained, that you are not the daughter 
of Elizabeth Device." 

" Did your brother think this?" cried Alizon, eagerly. But 
she immediately cast down her eyes. 

" He did," replied Dorothy,, not noticing her confusion. " ' It 
is impossible,' he said, ' that that lovely girl can be sprung from' 
but I will not wound you by adding the rest." 

" I cannot disown my kindred," said Alizon. " Still, I must 
confess that some notions of the sort have crossed me, arising, 
probably, from my mother's extraordinary treatment, and from 
many other circumstances, which, though trifling in themselves, 
were not without weight in leading me to the conclusion. Hitherto 
I have treated it only as a passing fancy, but if you and Master 
Richard Assheton" and her voice slightly faltered as she pro 
nounced the name " think so, it may warrant me in more seriously 
considering the matter." 

" Do consider it most seriously, dear Alizon," cried Dorothy. 
" I have made up my mind, and Richard has made up his mind, 
too, that you are not Mother Demdike's grand-daughter, nor 
Elizabeth Device's daughter, nor Jennet's sister nor any rela 
tion of theirs. We are sure of it, and we will have you of our 
mind." 

The fair and animated speaker could not help noticing the 
blushes that mantled Alizon's cheeks as she spoke, but she attri 
buted them to other than the true cause. Nor did she mend the 
matter as she proceeded. 

" I am sure you are well born, Alizon," she said, u and so it 
will be found in the end. And Richard thinks so, too, for he said 
so to me; and Richard is my oracle, Alizon." 

In spite of herself Alizon's eyes sparkled with pleasure ; but 
she speedily checked the emotion. 

" I must not indulge the dream," she said, with a sigh. 

" Why not ? " cried Dorothy. " I will have strict inquiries 
made as to your history." 

"I cannot consent to it," replied Alizon. "I cannot leave 
one who, if she be not my parent, has stood to me in that relation. 
Neither can I have her brought into trouble on my account. What 
will she think of me, if she learns I have indulged such a notion ? 
She will say, and with truth, that I am the most ungrateful of 
human beings, as well as the most unnatural of children. No, 
dear young lady, it must not be. These fancies are brilliant, but 
fallacious, and, like bubbles, burst as soon as formed." 

" I admire your sentiments, though I do not admit the justice 
of your reasoning," rejoined Dorothy. " It is not on your own 
account merely, though that is much, that the secret of your 
birth if there be one ought to be cleared up; but, for the 
sake of those with whom you may be connected. There may be 



136 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

a mother, like mine, weeping for you as lost a brother, like 
Richard, mourning you as dead. Think of the sad hearts your 
restoration will make joyful. As to Elizabeth Device, no con 
sideration should be shown her. If she has stolen you from your 
parents, as I suspect, she deserves no pity." 

" All this is mere surmise, dear young lady," replied Alizon. 
At this juncture they were startled, by seeing an old woman 
come from behind the monument and plant herself before tjaem. 
Both uttered a cry, and would have fled, but a gesture from the 
crone detained them. Very old was she, and of strange and 
sinister aspect, almost blind, bent double, with frosted brows and 
chin, and shaking with palsy. 

" Stay where you are," cried the hag, in an imperious tone. " I 
want to speak to you. Come nearer to me, my pretty wheans ; 
nearer nearer." 

And as they complied, drawn towards her by an impulse they 
could not resist, the old woman caught hold of Alizon's arm, and 
said with a chuckle. u So you are the wench they call Alizon 
Device, eh!" 

" Ay," replied Alizon, trembling like a dove in the talons of a 
hawk. 

"Do you know who I am?" cried the hag, grasping her yet 
more tightly. " Do you know who I am, I say ? If not, I will 
tell you. I am Mother Chattox of Pendle Forest, the rival of 
Mother Demdike, and the enemy of all her accursed brood. Now, 
do you know me, wench? Men call me witch. Whether I am so 
or not, I have some power, as they and you shall find. Mother 
Demdike has often defied me often injured me, but I will have 
my revenge upon her ha ! ha !" 

" Let me go," cried Alizon, greatly terrified. 
" I will run and bring assistance," cried Dorothy. And she 
flew to the door, but it resisted her attempts to open it. 

" Come back," screamed the hag. " You strive in vain. The 
door is fast shut fast shut. Come back, I say. Who are you ? " 
she added, as the maid drew near, ready to sink with terror. 
" Your voice is an Ausheton's voice. I know you now. You are 
Dorothy Assheton whey-skinned, blue-eyed Dorothy. Listen to 
me, Dorothy. I owe your family a grudge, and, if you provoke 
me, I will pay it oiFin part on you. Stir not, as you value your life." 
The poor girl did not dare to move, and Alizon remained as if 
fascinated by the terrible old woman. 

" I will tell you what has happened, Dorothy," pursued Mother 
Chattox. " I came hither to Whalley on business of my own ; 
meddling with no one ; harming no one. Tread upon the adder 
and it will bite; and, when molested, I bite like the adder. 
Your cousin, Nick Assheton, came in my way, called me c witch,' 
and menaced me. I cursed him ha! ha! And then your brother, 
Richard " 




MOTHER CHATTOX, ALIZON, AND DOROTHY. 



P. 136. 



^ 



THE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH. 137 

" What of him, in Heaven's name ? " almost shrieked Alizon. 

"How's this?" exclaimed Mother Chattox, placing her hand 
on the beating heart of the girl. 

" What of Richard Assheton?" repeated Alizon. 

" You love him, I feel you do, wench," cried the old crone with 
fierce exultation. 

" Release me, wicked woman," cried Alizon. 

" Wicked, am I ? ha ! ha !" rejoined Mother Chattox, chuckling 
maliciously, " because, forsooth, I read thy heart, and betray its 
secrets. Wicked, eh ! I tell thee wench again, Richard Assheton 
is lord and master here. Every pulse in thy bosc-m beats for him 
for him alone. But beware of his love. Beware of it, I say. 
It shall bring thee ruin and despair." 

" For pity's sake, release me," implored Alizon. 

" Not yet," replied the inexorable old woman, " not yet. My 
tale is not half told. My curse fell on Richard's head, as it did 
on Nicholas's. And then the hell-hounds thought to catch me ; 
but they were at fault. I tricked them nicely ha ! ha ! How 
ever, they took my Nance my pretty Nance they seized her, 
bound her, bore her to the Calder and there swam her. Curses 
light on them ah 1 ! ah 1 ! but chief on him who did it !" 

" Who was he?" inquired Alizon, tremblingly. 

" Jem Device," replied the old woman " it was he who bound 
her he who plunged her in the river, he who swam her. But I 
will pinch and plague him for it. I will strew his couch with 
nettles, and ah 1 wholesome food shall be poison to him. His blood 
shall be as water, and his flesh shrink from his bones. He shall 
waste away slowly slowly slowly till he drops like a skeleton 
into the grave ready digged for him. Ah 1 connected with him shall 
feel my fury. I would kill thee now, if thou wert aught of his." 

" Aught of his ! What mean you, old woman ? " demanded 
Alizon. 

" Why, this," rejoined Mother Chattox, " and let the knowledge 
work in thee, to the confusion of Bess Device. Thou art not her 
daughter." 

" It is as I thought," cried Dorothy Assheton, roused by the 
intelligence from her terror. 

" I tell thee not this secret to pleasure thee," continued Mother 
Chattox, " but to confound Elizabeth Device. I have no other 
motive. She hath provoked my vengeance, and she shall feel it. 
Thou art not her child, I say. The secret of thy birth is known 
to me, but the time is not yet oome for its disclosure. It shall 
out, one day, to the confusion of those who offend me. When 
thou goest home tell thy reputed mother what I have said, and 
mark how she takes the information. Ha ! who comes here ? " 

The hag's last exclamation was occasioned by the sudden ap 
pearance of Mistress Nutter, who opened the door of the chapel, 
and, staring in astonishment at the group, came quickly forward. 



138 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" What makes you here, Mother Chattox I" she cried. 

" I came here to avoid pursuit," replied the old hag, with a 
cowed manner, and in accents sounding strangely submissive after 
her late infuriated tone. 

" What have you been saying to these girls?" demanded Mis 
tress Nutter, authoritatively. 

" Ask them," the hag replied. 

" She declares that Alizon is not the daughter of Elizabeth 
Device," cried Dorothy Assheton. 

"Indeed!" exclaimed Mistress Nutter quickly, and as if a 
spring of extraordinary interest had been suddenly touched. "What 
reason hast thou for this assertion ? " 

u No good reason," replied the old woman evasively, yet with 
evident apprehension of her questioner. 

" Good reason or bad, I will have it," cried Mistress Nutter. 

is What you, too, take an interest in the wench, like the rest ! " 
returned Mother Chattox. " Is she so very winning?" 

(i That is no answer to my question," said the lady. " Whose 
child is she?" 

" Ask Bess Device, or Mother Demdike," replied Mother Chat 
tox ; " they know more about the matter than me." 

rf I will have thee speak, and to the purpose," cried the lady, 
angrily." 

" Many an one has lost a child who would gladly have it back 
again," said the old hag, mysteriously. 

" Who has lost one ? " asked Mistress Nutter. 

" Nay, it passeth me to tell," replied the old woman with 
affected ignorance. " Question those who stole her. I have set 
you on the track. If you fail in pursuing it, come to me. You 
know where to find me." 

(e You shall not go thus," said Mistress Nutter. " I will have 
a direct answer now." 

And as she spoke she waved her hands twice or thrice over the 
old woman. In doing this her figure seemed to dilate, and her 
countenance underwent a marked and fearful change. Ah 1 her 
beauty vanished, her eyes blazed, and terror sat on her wrinkled 
brow. The hag, on the contrary, crouched lower down, and seemed 
to dwindle less than her ordinary size. Writhing as from heavy 
blows, and with a mixture of malice and fear in her countenance, 
she cried, " Were I to speak, you would not thank me. Let me go.'* 

" Answer," vociferated Mistress Nutter, disregarding the cau 
tion, and speaking in a sharp piercing voice, strangely contrasting 
with her ordinary utterance. " Answer, I say, or I will beat thee 
to the dust." 

And she continued her gestures, while the sufferings of the old 
hag evidently increased, and she crouched nearer and nearer to 
the ground, moaning out the words, " Do not force me to speak. 
You will repent it ! you will repent it !" 



THE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH. 139 

" Do not torment her thus, madam," cried Allzon, who with 
Dorothy looked at the strange scene with mingled apprehension 
and wonderment. Much as I desire to know the secret, of my birth, 
I would not obtain it thus." 

As she uttered these words, the old woman contrived to shuffle 
off, and disappeared behind the tomb. 

" Why did you interpose, Alizon," cried Mistress Nutter, some 
what angrily, and dropping her hands. " You broke the power I 
had over her. I would have compelled her to speak." 

" I thank you, gracious lady, for your consideration," replied 
Alizon, gratefully ; " but the sight was too painful." 

" What has become of her where is she gone ?" cried Dorothy, 
peeping behind the tomb. " She has crept into this vault, I 
suppose." 

u Do not trouble yourelf about her more, Dorothy," said Mis 
tress Nutter, resuming her wonted voice and wonted looks. " Let 
us return to the house. Thus much is ascertained, Alizon, that 
you are no child of your supposed parent. Wait a little, and the 
rest shall be found out for you. And, meantime, be assured that 
I take strong interest in you." 

" That we all do," added Dorothy. 

"Thank you! thank you!" exclaimed Alizon, almost over 
powered. 

With this they went forth, and, traversing the shafted aisle, 
quitted the conventual church, and took their way along the alley 
leading to the garden. 

" Say not a word at present to Elizabeth Device of the informa 
tion you have obtained, Alizon," observed Mistress Nutter. " I 
have reasons for this counsel, which I will afterwards explain to 
you. And do you keep silence on the subject, Dorothy." 

"May I not tell Richard?" said the young lady. 

"Not Richard not any one," returned Mistress Nutter, " or 
you may seriously affect Alizon's prospects." 

" You have cautioned me in time," cried Dorothy, " for here 
comes my brother with our cousin Nicholas." 

And as she spoke a turn in the alley showed Richard and Nicho 
las Assheton advancing towards them. 

A strange revolution had been produced in Alizon's feelings by 
the events of the last half hour. The opinions expressed by 
Dorothy Assheton, as to her birth, had been singularly confirmed 
by Mother Chattox; but could reliance be placed on the old 
woman's assertions ? Might they not have been made with mis 
chievous intent ? And was it not possible, nay, probable, that, 
in her place of concealment behind the tomb, the vindictive hag 
had overheard the previous conversation with Dorothy, and based 
her own declaration upon it? All these suggestions occurred to 
Alizon, but the previous idea having once gained admission to her 
breast, seon established itself firmly there, in spite of doubts and 



140 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

"nisgivings, and began to mix itself up with new thoughts and 
wishes, with which other persons were connected ; for she could 
not help fancying she might be well-born, and if so the vast dis 
tance heretofore existing between her and Richard Assheton 
might be greatly diminished, if not altogether removed. So rapid 
is the progress of thought, that only a few minutes were required 
for this long train of reflections to pass through her mind, and it 
was merely put to flight by the approach of the main object of 
her thoughts. 

On joining the party, Richard Assheton saw plainly that some 
thing had happened ; but as both his sister and Alizon laboured 
under evident embarrassment, he abstained from making inquiries 
as to its cause for the present, hoping a better opportunity of doing 
so would occur, and the conversation was kept up by Nicholas 
Assheton, who described, in his wonted lively manner, the encoun 
ter with Mother Chattox and Nance Redferne, the swimming of 
the latter, and the trickery and punishment of Potts. During the 
recital Mistress Nutter often glanced uneasily at the two girls, 
but neither of them offered any interruption until Nicholas had 
finished, when Dorothy, taking her brother's hand, said, with a 
look of affectionate admiration, " You acted like yourself, dear 
Richard." 

Alizon did not venture to give utterance to the same sentiment, 
but her looks plainly expressed it. 

" I only wish you had punished that cruel James Device, as 
well as saved poor Nance," added Dorothy. 

" Plush ! " exclaimed Richard, glancing at Alizon. 

*' You need not be afraid of hurting her feelings," cried the 
young lady. " She does not mind him now." 

" What do you mean, Dorothy ?" cried Richard, in surprise. 

" Oh, nothing nothing," she replied, hastily. 

" Perhaps you will explain," said Richard to Alizon. 

66 Indeed I cannot," she answered in confusion. 

" You would have laughed to see Potts creep out of the river," 
eaid Nicholas, turning to Dorothy ; " he looked just like a 
drowned rat ha ! ha ! " 

" You have made a bitter enemy of him, Nicholas," observed 
Mistress Nutter ; " so look well to yourself." 

(t I heed him not," rejoined the squire ; (6 he knows me now too 
well to meddle with me again, and I shall take good care how I 
put myself in his power. One thing I may mention, to show the 
impotent malice of the knave. Just as he was setting off, he said, 
' This is not the only discovery of witchcraft I have made 
to-day. I have another case nearer home.' What could he 
mean?" 

" I know not," replied Mistress Nutter, a shade of disquietude 
passing over her countenance. u But he is quite capable of bring 
ing the charge against you or any of us." 



THE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH. 141 

" He is so," said Nicholas. " After what has occurred, I 
wonder whether he will go over to Rough Lee to-morrow ? 

" Very likely not/' replied Mistress Nutter, " and in that case 
Master Roger No well must provide some other person competent 
to examine the boundary-line of the properties on his behalf." 

66 Then you are confident of the adjudication being in your 
favour ? " said Nicholas. 

st Quite so," replied Mistress Nutter, with a self-satisfied smile. 

" The result, I hope, may justify your expectation," said 
Nicholas ; " but it is right to tell you, that Sir Ralph, in consent 
ing to postpone his decision, has only done so out of consideration 
to you. If the division of the properties be as represented by him, 
Master Nowell will unquestionably obtain an award in his favour.'* 

u Under such circumstances he may," said Mistress Nutter ; 
" but you will find the contrary turn out to be the fact. I will 
show you a plan I have had lately prepared, and you can then 
judge for yourself." 

While thus conversing, the party passed through a door in the 
high stone wall dividing the garden from the court, and proceeded 
towards the principal entrance of the mansion. Built out of the 
ruins of the Abbey, which had served as a very convenient quarry 
for the construction of this edifice, as well as for Portfield, the 
house was large and irregular, planned chiefly with the view of 
embodying part of the old abbot's lodging, and consisting of a 
wide front, with two wings, one of which looked into the court, 
and the other, comprehending the long gallery, into the garden. 
The old north-east gate of the Abbey, with its lofty archway and 
embattled walls, served as an entrance to the great court- yard, and 
at its wicket ordinarily stood Ned Huddlestone, the porter, though 
he was absent on the present occasion, being occupied with the 
May-day festivities. Immediately opposite the gateway sprang a 
flight of stone steps, with a double landing-place and a broad 
balustrade of the same material, on the lowest pillar of which was 
placed a large escutcheon sculptured with the arms of the family 
argent, a mullet sable with a rebus on the name an ash on a 
tun. The great door to which these steps conducted stood wide 
open, and before it, on the upper landing-place, were collected 
Lady Assheton, Mistress Braddyll, Mistress Nicholas Assheton, 
and some other dames, laughing and conversing together. Some 
long-eared spaniels, favourites of the lady of the house, were 
chasing each other up and down the steps, disturbing the slumbers 
of a couple of fine blood-hounds in the court-yard ; or persecuting 
the proud peafowl that strutted about to display their gorgeous 
plumage to the spectators. 

On seeing the party approach, Lady Assheton came down to 
meet them. 

(t You have been long absent," she said to Dorothy ; '* but I 
suppose you have been exploring the ruins?" 



142 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Yes, we have not left a hole or corner unvisited," was the 
reply. 

" That is right," said Lady Assheton. "I knew you would 
make a good guide, Dorothy. Of course you have often seen the 
old conventual church before, Alizon?" 

" I am ashamed to say I have not, your ladyship," she replied. 

(t Indeed ! " exclaimed Lady Assheton ; " and yet you have 
lived all your life in the village ? " 

" Quite true, your ladyship," answered Alizon ; " but these 
ruins have been prohibited to me." 

66 Not by us," said Lady Assheton; "they are open to every one." 

" I was forbidden to visit them by my mother," said Alizon. 
And for the first time the word u mother" seemed strange to her. 

Lady Assheton looked surprised, but made no remark, and 
mounting the steps, led the way to a spacious though not very 
lofty chamber, with huge uncovered rafters, and a floor of polished 
oak. Over a great fireplace at one side, furnished with immense 
andirons, hun r a noble pair of antlers, and similar trophies of the 
chase were affixed to other parts of the walls. Here and there 
were likewise hung rusty skull-caps, breastplates, two-handed and 
single-handed swords, maces, halberts, and arquebusses, with 
chain-shirts, buff-jerkins, matchlocks, and other warlike imple 
ments, amongst which were several shields painted with the arms 
of the Asshetons and their alliances. High-backed chairs of gilt 
leather were ranged against the walls, and ebony cabinets inlaid 
with ivory were set between them at intervals, supporting rare 
specimens of glass and earthenware. Opposite the fireplace, 
stood a large clock, curiously painted and decorated with emblem 
atical devices, with the signs of the zodiac, and provided with 
movable figures to strike the hours on a bell ; while from the 
centre of the roof hung a great chandelier of stag's horn. 

Lady Assheton did not tarry long within the entrance hall, for 
such it was, but conducted her guests through an arched door 
way on the right into the long gallery. One hundred and fifty 
feet in length, and proportionately wide and lofty, this vast 
chamber had undergone little change since its original construction 
by the old owners of the Abbey. Panelled and floored with 
lustrous oak, and hung in some parts with antique tapestry, 
representing scriptural subjects, one side was pierced with lofty 
pointed windows, looking out upon the garden, while the southern 
extremity boasted a magnificent window, with heavy stone mul- 
lions, though of more recent workmanship than the framework, 
commanding Whalley Nab and the river. The furniture of the 
apartment was grand but gloomy, and consisted of antique chairs 
and tables belonging to the Abbey. Some curious ecclesiastical 
sculptures, wood carvings, and saintly images, were placed at 
intervals near the walls, and on the upper panels were hung a 
row of family portraits. 



THE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH. 143 

Quitting the rest of the company, and proceeding to the 
southern window, Dorothy invited Alizon and her brother to place 
themselves beside her on the cushioned seats of the deep embra 
sure. Little conversation, however, ensued ; Alizon' s heart being 
too full for utterance, and recent occurrences engrossing Dorothy's 
thoughts, to the exclusion of every thing else. Having made one 
or two unsuccessful efforts to engage them in talk, Richard like 
wise lapsed into silence, and gazed out on the lovely scenery 
before him. The evening has been described as beautiful; and 
the swift Calder, as it hurried by, was tinged with rays of the 
declining sun, whilst the woody heights of Whalley Nab were 
steeped in the same rosy light. But the view failed to interest 
Richard in his present mood, and after a brief survey, he stole a 
look at Alizon, and was surprised to find her in tears. 

" What saddening thoughts cross you, fair girl?" he inquired, 
with deep interest. 

" I can hardly account for my sudden despondency," she 
replied ; " but I have heard that great happiness is the precursor 
of dejection, and the saying 1 suppose must be true, for I have 
been happier to-day than I ever was before in my life. But the 
feeling of sadness is now past," she added, smiling. 

" I am glad of it," said Richard. " May I not know what has 
occurred to you?" 

"Not at present," interposed Dorothy ; "but I am sure you 
will be pleased when you are made acquainted with the circum 
stance. I would tell you now if I might." 

" May I guess ? " said Richard. 

" I. don't know," rejoined Dorothy, who was dying to tell him,, 
"May he?" 

" Oh no, no !" cried Alizon. 

u You are very perverse," said Richard, with a look of disap 
pointment. " There can be no harm in guessing ; and you can 
please yourself as to giving an answer. I fancy, then, that Alizon 
has made some discovery." 

Dorothy nodded. 

" Relative to her parentage?" pursued Richard. 

Another nod. 

" She has found out she is not Elizabeth Device's daughter?" 
said Richard. 

" Some witch must have told you this," exclaimed Dorothy. 

"Have I indeed guessed rightly?" cried Richard, with an 
eagerness that startled his sister. " Do not keep me in suspense. 
Speak plainly," 

tf How im I tc answer him, Alizon?" said Dorothy. 

" Nay, do aot appeal to me. dear young lady," she answered, 
blushing. 

" I have gone too far to retreat," rejoined Dorothy, " and there 
fore, despite Mistress Nutter's interdiction, the truth shall out. 



144 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

You have guessed shrewdly, Richard. A discovery has been made 
a very great discovery. Alizon is not the daughter of Elizabeth 
Device." 

"The intelligence delights me, though it scarcely surprises 
me," cried Richard, gazing with heartfelt pleasure at the blushing 
girl ; for I was sure of the fact from the first. Nothing so good 
and charming as Alizon could spring from so foul a source. How 
and by what means you have derived this information, as well as 
whose daughter you are, I shall wait patiently to learn. Enough 
for me you are not the sister of James Device enough you are 
not the grandchild of Mother Demdike." 

" You know all I know, in knowing thus much," replied 
Alizon, timidly. " And secrecy has been enjoined by Mistress 
Nutter, in order that the rest may be found out. But oh! 
should the hopes I have perhaps too hastily indulged, prove 
fallacious" 

u They cannot be fallacious, Alizon," interrupted Richard, 
eagerly. c< On that score rest easy. Your connexion with that 
wretched family is for ever broken. But I can see the necessity 
of caution, and shall observe it. And so Mistress Nutter takes 
an interest in you?" 

"The strongest," replied Dorothy; " but see! she comes this way." 

But we must now go back for a short space. 

While Mistress Nutter and Nicholas were seated at a table 
examining a plan of the Rough Lee estates, the latter was greatly 
astonished to see the door open and give admittance to Master 
Potts, who he fancied snugly lying between a couple of blankets, 
at the Dragon. The attorney was clad in a riding-dress, which 
he had exchanged for his wet habiliments, and was accompanied 
by Sir Ralph Assheton and Master Roger Nowell. On seeing 
Nicholas, he instantly stepped up to him. 

" Aha I squire," he cried, " you did not expect to see me again 
so soon, eh ! A pottle of hot sack put my blood into circulation, 
and having, luckily, a change of raiment in my valise, I am all 
right again. Not so easily got rid of, you see ! " 

" So it appears," replied Nicholas, laughing. 

" We have a trifling account to settle together, sir," said the 
attorney, putting on a serious look. 

" Whenever you please, sir," replied Nicholas, good-humouredly, 
tapping the hilt of his sword. 

" Not in that way," cried Potts, darting quickly back. " I never 
fight with those weapons never. Our dispute must be settled 
in a court of law, sir in a court of law. You understand, Master 
Nicholas?" 

" There is a shrewd maxim, Master Potts, that he who is his 
own lawyer has a fool for his client," observed Nicholas, drily. 
"Would it not be better to stick to the defence of others, rather 
than practise in your own behalf?" 



THE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH. 14:5 

" You have expressed my opinion, Master Nicholas," observed 
Roger Nowell ; " and I hope Master Potts will not commence any 
action on his own account till he has finished my business." 

" Assuredly not, sir, since you desire it," replied the attorney, 
obsequiously. " But my motives must not be mistaken. I have 
a clear case of assault and battery against Master Nicholas 
Assheton, or I may proceed against him criminally for an attempt 
on my life." 

" Have you given him no provocation, sir? " demanded Sir Ralph, 
sternly. 

" No provocation can justify the treatment I have experienced, 
Sir Ralph," replied Potts. " However, to show I am a man of 
peace, and harbour no resentment, however just grounds I may 
have for such a feeling, I am willing to make up the matter with 
Master Nicholas, provided " 

" He offers you a handsome consideration, eh?" said the squire. 

rf Provided he offers me a handsome apology such as a gentle 
man may accept," rejoined Potts, consequentially. 

" And which he will not refuse, I am sure," said Sir Ralph, 
glancing at his cousin. 

" I should certainly be sorry to have drowned you," said the 
gquire " very sorry." 

"Enough enough I am content," cried Potts, holding out 
his hand, which Nicholas grasped with an energy that brought 
tears into the little man's eyes. 

" I am glad the matter is amicably adjusted," observed Roger 
Nowell, " for I suspect both parties have been to blame. And I 
must now request you, Master Potts, to forego your search and 
inquiries after witches, till such time as you have settled this 
question of the boundary line for me. One matter at a time, my 
good sir." 

" But, Master Nowell," cried Potts, " my much esteemed and 
singular good client " 

" I will have no nay," interrupted Nowell, peremptorily. 

" Hum ! " muttered Potts ; " I shall lose the best chance of dii- 
tinction ever thrown in my way." 

" I care not," said Nowell. 

" Just as you came up, Master Nowell," observed Nicholas, who 
was examining a plan of the disputed estates in Pendle Forest, 
It differs from yours, and, if correct, certainly substantiates Mia- 
tress Nutter's claim." 

" I have mine with me," replied Nowell, producing a plan, and 
opening it. " We can compare the two, if you please. The line 
runs thus : From the foot of Pendle Hill, beginning with Barley 
Booth, the boundary is marked by a stone wall, as far as certain 
fields in the occupation of John Ogden. Is it not so?" 

" It is," replied Nicholas, comparing the statement with the 
other plan. 



146 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" It then runs on in a northerly direction," pursued Noweli, 
towards Burst Clough, and here the landmarks are certain stones 
placed in the moor, one hundred yards apart, and giving me twenty 
acres of this land, and Mistress Nutter ten." 

" On the contrary," replied Nicholas. " This plan gives Mis 
tress Nutter twenty acres, and you ten." 

tf Then the plan is wrong," cried Noweli, sharply. 

"It has been carefully prepared," said Mistress Nutter, who 
had approached the table. 

" No matter ; it is wrong, I say," cried Noweli, angrily. 

u You see where the landmarks are placed, Master Noweli," 
said Nicholas, pointing to the measurement. " I merely go by 
them." 

"The landmarks are improperly placed in that plan," cried 
Noweli. 

" I will examine them myself to-morrow," said Potts, taking 
out a large memorandum-book ; " there cannot be an error of 
ten acres ten perches or ten feet, possibly, but acres pshaw!" 

" Laugh as you please ; but go on," said Mrs. Nutter. 

" Well, then," pursued Nicholas, " the line approaches the 
bank of a rivulet, called Moss Brook a rare place for woodcocks 
and snipes that Moss Brook, I may remark the land on the left 
consisting of five acres of waste land, marked by a sheepfold, 
and two posts set up in a line with it, belonging to Mistress 
Nutter." 

" To Mistress Nutter !" exclaimed Noweli, indignantly. u To 



me, you mean." 



" It is here set down to Mistress Nutter," said Nicholas. 

" Then it is set down wrongfully," cried Noweli. " That plan 
is altogether incorrect." 

"On which side of the field does the rivulet flow!" inquired 
Potts. 

" On the right," replied Nicholas. 

" On the left," cried Nowell. 

" There must be some extraordinary mistake," said Potts. <( I 
shall make a note of that, and examine it to-morrow. N.B. 
Waste land sheepfold rivulet called Moss Brook, flowing on 
the left." 

" On the right," cried Mistress Nutter. 

u That remains to be seen," rejoined Potts, " I have made the 
entry as on the left." 

" Go on, Master Nicholas," said Noweli, " I should like to see 
how many other errors that plan contains." 

" Passing the rivulet," pursued the squire, " we come to a 
footpath leading to the limestone quarry, about which there can 
be no mistake. Then by Cat Gallows Wood and Swallow Hole; 
and then by another path to Worston Moor, skirting a hut in the 
occupation of James Device ha 1 ha 1 Master Jem, are you 



THE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH. 147 

here ? I thought you dwelt with your grandmother at Malkin 
Tower excuse me, Master Nowell, but one must relieve the 
dulness of this plan by an exclamation or so and here being 
waste land again, the landmarks are certain stones set at inter 
vals towards Hook Cliff, and giving Mistress Nutter two-thirds 
of the whole moor, and Master Roger Nowell one-third." 

" False again," cried Nowell, furiously. " The two-thirds are 
mine, the one-third Mistress Nutter's." 

" Somebody must be very wrong," cried Nicholas. 

" Very wrong indeed," added Potts ; " and I suspect that that 
somebody is " 

" Master Nowell," said Mistress Nutter. 

" Mistress Nutter," cried Master Nowell. 

"Both are wrong and both right, according to your own 
showing," said Nicholas, laughing. 

" To-morrow will decide the question," said Potts. 

" Better wait till then," interposed Sir Ralph. " Take both 
plans with you, and you will then ascertain which is correct." 

" Agreed," cried Nowell. " Here is mine." 

" And here is mine," said Mistress Nutter. " I will abide by 
the investigation." 

" And Master Potts and I will verify the statements," said 
Nicholas. 

" We will, sir," replied the attorney, putting his memorandum 
book in his pocket. " We will." 

The plans were then delivered to the custody of Sir Ralph, 
who promised to hand them over to Potts and Nicholas on the 
morrow. 

The party then separated ; Mistress Nutter shaping her course 
towards the window where Alizon and the two other young 
people were seated, while Potts, plucking the squire's sleeve, said, 
with a very mysterious look, that he desired a word with him in 
private. Wondering what could be the nature of the communi 
cation the attorney desired to make, Nicholas withdrew with him 
Lito a corner, and Nowell, who saw them retire, and could not 
help watching them with some curiosity, remarked that the 
squire's hilarious countenance fell as he listened to the attorney, 
while, on the contrary, the features of the latter gleamed with 
malicious satisfaction. 

Meanwhile, Mistress Nutter approached Alizon, and beckoning 
her towards her, they quitted the room together. As the young 
girl went forth, she cast a wistful look at Dorothy and her 
brother. 

" You think with me, that that lovely girl is well born?" said 
Dorothy, as Alizon disappeared. 

" It were heresy to doubt it," answered Richard. 

" Shall I tell you another secret ? " she continued, regarding 
him fixedly "if, indeed, it be a secret, for you must be sadly 



148 THE LANCASHIRE' WITCHES. 

wanting in discernment if you have not found it out ere this. 
She loves you." 

" Dorothy !" exclaimed Richard. 

" I am sure of it," she rejoined. " But I would not tell you 
this, if I were not quite equally sure that you love her in return." 

" On my faith, Dorothy, you give yourself credit for wonder 
ful penetration," cried Richard. 

" Not a whit more than I am entitled to," she answered. 
" Nay, it will not do to attempt concealment with me. If I had 
not been certain of the matter before, your manner now would 
convince me. I am very glad of it. She will make a charming 
sister, and I shall be very fond of her." 

" How you do run on, madcap !" cried her brother, trying to 
look displeased, but totally failing in assuming the expression. 

" Stranger things have come to pass," said Dorothy ; " and 
one reads in story-books of young nobles marrying village 
maidens in spite of parental opposition. I dare say you will get 
nobody's consent to the marriage but mine, Richard." 

" I dare say not," he replied, rather blankly. 

" That is, if she should not turn out to be somebody's 
daughter," pursued Dorothy ; " somebody, I mean, quite as great 
as the heir of Middleton, which I make no doubt she will." 

rt I hope she may," replied Richard. 

" Why, you don't mean to say you wouldn't marry her if she 
didn't !" cried Dorothy. (s I'm ashamed of you, Richard." 

" It would remove all opposition, at aU events," said her 
brother, 

" So it would," said Dorothy ; " and now Til tell you another 
notion of mine, Richard. Somehow or other, it has come into 
my head that Alizon is the daughter of whom do you think ? " 

Whom !" he cried. 

" Guess," she rejoined. 

rt I can't," he exclaimed, impatiently. 

" Well, then, I'll tell you without more ado," she answered. 
* Mind, it's only my notion, and I've no precise grounds for it. 
But, in my opinion, she's the daughter of the lady who has just 
left the room." 

<* Of Mistress Nutter !" ejaculated Richard, starting. "What 
makes you think so ? " 

" The extraordinary and otherwise unaccountable interest she 
takes in her," replied Dorothy. " And, if you recollect, Mistress 
Nutter had an infant daughter who was lost in a strange manner." 

ts I thought the child died," replied Richard ; " but it may be 
as you say. I hope it is so." 

" Time will show," said Dorothy ; " but I have made up iny 
mind about the matter." 

At this moment Nicholas Assheton came up to them, looking 
grave and uneasy. 



THE RUINED CONVENTUAL CHURCH. 149 

"What has happened?" asked Richard, anxiously. 

c I have just received some very unpleasant intelligence," 
replied Nicholas. " I told you of a menace uttered by that 
confounded Potts, on quitting me after his ducking. He has 
now spoken out plainly, and declares he overheard part of a 
conversation between Mistress Nutter and Elizabeth Device, 
which took place in the ruins of the convent church this morning, 
and he is satisfied that " 

" Well !" cried Richard, breathlessly. 

" That Mistress Nutter is a witch, and in league with witches," 
continued Nicholas. 

(f Ha ! " exclaimed Richard, turning deathly pale. 

" I suspect the rascal has invented the charge," said Nicholas ; 
" but he is quite unscrupulous enough to make it ; and, if made, 
it will be fatal to our relative's reputation, if not to her life." 

"It is false, I am sure of it," cried Richard, torn by conflicting 
emotions. 

" Would I could think so !" cried Dorothy, suddenly recollect 
ing Mistress Nutter's strange demeanour in the little chapel, and 
the unaccountable influence she seemed to exercise over the old 
crone. " But something has occurred to-day that leads me to a 
contrary conviction." 

" What is it ? Speak !" cried Richard. 

" Not now not now," replied Dorothy. 

" Whatever suspicions you may entertain, keep silence, or you 
will destroy Mistress Nutter," said Nicholas. 

" Fear me not," rejoined Dorothy. " Oh, Alizon !" she mur 
mured, " that this unhappy question should arise at such a 
moment." 

" Do you indeed believe the charge, Dorothy ? " asked Richard, 
in a low voice. 

" I do," she answered in the same tone. " If Alizon be her 
daughter, she can never be your wife." 

"How?" cried Richard. 

"Never never!" repeated Dorothy, emphatically. "The 
daughter of a witch, be that witch named Elizabeth Device or 
Alice Nutter, is no mate for you." 

" You prejudge Mistress Nutter, Dorothy," he cried. 

" Alas ! Richard. I have too good reason for what I say," she 
answered, sadly. 

Richard uttered an exclamation of despair. And on the instant 
the lively sounds of tabor and pipe, mixed with the jingling of 
bells, arose from the court-yard, and presently afterwards an at 
tendant entered to announce that the May-day revellers were 
without, and directions were given by Sir Ralph that they should 
be shown into the great banqueting-hall below the gallery, which 
had been prepared for their reception. 



150 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 



CHAPTER VIII. THE REVELATION. 

ON quitting the long gallery, Mistress Nutter and Alizon 
ascended a wide staircase, and, traversing a corridor, came to an 
antique, tapestried chamber, richly but cumbrously furnished, 
having a carved oak bedstead with sombre hangings, a few high- 
backed chairs of the same material, and a massive wardrobe", with 
shrine-work atop, and two finely sculptured figures, of the size of 
life, in the habits of Cistertian monks, placed as supporters at either 
extremity. At one side of the bed the tapestry was drawn aside, 
showing the entrance to a closet or inner room, and opposite it 
there was a great yawning fireplace, with a lofty mantelpiece and 
chimney projecting beyond the walls. The windows were narrow, 
and darkened by heavy transom bars and small diamond panes 
while the view without, looking upon Whalley Nab, was obstruct 
ed by the contiguity of a tall cypress, whose funereal branches 
added to the general gloom. The room was one of those formerly 
allotted to their guests by the hospitable abbots, and had under 
gone little change since their time, except in regard to furniture; 
and even that appeared old and faded now. What with the gloomy 
arras, the shrouded bedstead, and the Gothic wardrobe with its 
mysterious figures, the chamber had a grim, ghostly air, and so the 
young girl thought on entering it. 

" I have brought you hither, Alizon," said Mistress Nutter, 
motioning her to a seat, " that we may converse without chance 
of interruption, for I have much to say. On first seeing you to 
day, your appearance, so superior to the rest of the May-day 
mummers, struck me forcibly, and I resolved to question Elizabeth 
Device about you. Accordingly I bade her join me in the Abbey 
gardens. She did so, and had not long left me when I accident 
ally met you and the others in the Lacy Chapel. When questioned, 
Elizabeth affected great surprise, and denied positively that there 
was any foundation for the idea that you were other than her 
child; but, notwithstanding her asseverations, I could see from her 
confused manner that there was more in the notion than she chose 
to admit, and I determined to have recourse to other means of 
arriving at the truth, little expecting my suspicions would be so 
soon confirmed by Mother Chattox. To my interrogation of that 
old woman, you were yourself a party, and I am now rejoiced that 
you interfered to prevent me from prosecuting my inquiries to the 
ntmost. There was one present from whom the secret of your 
birth must be strictly keptat least, for awhile and my impa 
tience carried me too far." 

" I only obeyed a natural impulse, madam," said Alizon ; " but 
I am at a loss to conceive what claim I can possibly have to the- 
consideration you show me." 



THE ElSVELATION. 151 

ft Listen to me, and you shall learn," replied Mistress Nutter. 
" It is a sad tale, and its recital will tear open old wounds, but it 
must not be withheld on that account. I do not ask you to bury 
the secrets I arn about to impart in the recesses of your bosom. 
You will do so when you learn them, without my telling you. 
When little more than your age I was wedded ; but not to him I 
would have chosen if choice had been permitted me. The union 
I need scarcely say was unhappy most unhappy though my 
discomforts were scrupulously concealed, and I was looked upon 
as a devoted wife, and my husband as a model of conjugal affec 
tion. But this was merely the surface internally all was strife 
and misery. Erelong my dislike of my husband increased to 
absolute hate, while on his part, though he still regarded me with 
as much passion as heretofore, he became frantically jealous and 
above all of Edward Braddyll of Portfield,who,as his bosom friend, 
and my distant relative, was a frequent visiter at the house. To 
relate the numerous exhibitions of jealousy that occurred would 
answer little purpose, and it will be enough to say that not a word 
or look passed between Edward and myself but was misconstrued. 
I took care never to be alone with our guest nor to give any just 
ground for suspicion but my caution availed nothing. An easy 
remedy would have been to forbid Edward the house, but this my 
husband's pride rejected. He preferred to endure the jealous 
torment occasioned by the presence of his wife's fancied lover, and 
inflict needless anguish on her, rather than brook the jeers of a 
few indifferent acquaintances. The same feeling made him desire 
to keep up an apparent good understanding with me ; and so far 
I seconded his views, for I shared in his pride, if in nothing else. 
Our quarrels were all in private, when no eye could see us no 
ear listen." 

" Yours is a melancholy history, madam," remarked Alizon, in 
a tone of profound interest. 

" You will think so ere I have done," returned the lady, sadly. 
" The only person in my confidence, and aware of my secret sor 
rows, was Elizabeth Device, who with her husband, John Device, 
then lived at Rough Lee. Serving me in the quality of tire 
woman and personal attendant, she could not be kept in ignorance 
of what took place, and the poor soul offered me all the sympathy 
in her power. Much was it needed, for I had no other sympathy. 
After awhile, I know not from what cause, unless from some im 
prudence on the part of Edward Braddyll, who was wild and reck 
less, my husband conceived worse suspicions than ever of me, and 
began to treat me with such harshness and cruelty, that, unable 
longer to endure his violence, I appealed to my father. But he 
was of a stern and arbitrary nature, and, having forced me into 
the match, would not listen to my complaints, but bade me submit. 
' It was my duty to do so,' he said, and he added some cutting 
expressions to the effect that I deserved the treatment I expert- 



152 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

enced, and dismissed me, Driven to desperation,! sought counsel 
and assistance from one I should most have avoided from Edward 
Braddyll and he proposed flight from my husband's roof flight 
with him." 

u But you were saved, madam?" cried Alizon, greatly shocked 
by the narration. " You were saved ? " 

" Hearmeout," rejoined Mistress Nutter. "Outragedas my feel 
ings were, and loathsome as my husband was to me, I spurned the 
base proposal, and instantly quitted my false friend. Nor wtmld I 
have seen him more, if permitted; but that secret interview with him 
was my first and last ; for it had been witnessed by my husband." 

ts Ha ! " exclaimed Alizon. 

" Concealed behind the arras, Richard Nutter heard enough to 
confirm his worst suspicions," pursued the lady ; " but he did not 
hear my justification. He saw Edward Braddyll at my feet he 
heard him urge me to fly but he did not wait to learn if I con 
sented, and, looking upon me as guilty, left his hiding-place to 
take measures for frustrating the plan, he supposed concerted be 
tween us. That night I was made prisoner in my room, and 
endured treatment the most inhuman. But a proposal was made 
by my husband, that promised some alleviation of my suffering. 
Henceforth we were to meet only in public, when a semblance of 
affection was to be maintained on both sides. This was done, he 
said, to save my character, and preserve his own name unspotted 
in the eyes of others, however tarnished it might be in his own. 
I willingly consented to the arrangement ; and thus for a brief 
space I became tranquil, if not happy. But another and severer 
trial awaited me." 

"Alas, madam!" exclaimed Alizon, sympathisingly. 

" My cup of sorrow, I thought, was full," pursued Mistress 
Nutter ; " but the drop was wanting to make it overflow. It 
came soon enough. Amidst my griefs I expected to be a 
mother, and with that thought how many fond and cheering 
anticipations mingled ! In my child I hoped to find a balm for my 
woes : in its smiles and innocent endearments a compensation for 
the harshness and injustice I had experienced. How little did I 
foresee that it was to be a new instrument of torture to me ; and 
that I should be cruelly robbed of the only blessing ever vouch 
safed me !" 

" Did the child die, madam ? " asked Alizon. 

" You shall hear," replied Mistress Nutter. " A daughter 
was born to me. I was made happy by its birth. A new 
existence, bright and unclouded, seemed dawning upon me ; but 
it was like a sunburst on a stormy day. Some two months before 
this event Elizabeth Device had given birth to a daughter, and 
she now took my child under her fostering care; for weakness 
prevented me from affording it the support it is a mother's 
blessed privilege to bestow. She seemed as fond of it as myself; 



THE REVELATION. 153 

and never was babe more calculated to win love than my little 
Millicent. Oh ! how shall I go on? The retrospect I am com 
pelled to take is frightful, but I cannot shun it. The foul and 
false suspicions entertained by my husband began to settle on the 
child. He would not believe it to be his own. With violent 
oaths and threats he first announced his odious suspicions to 
Elizabeth Device, and she, full of terror, communicated them to 
me. The tidings filled me with inexpressible alarm ; for I knew, if 
the dread idea had once taken possession of him, it would never 
be removed, while what he threatened would be executed. I 
would have fled at once with my poor babe if I had known where 
to go ; but I had no place of shelter. It would be in vain to seek 
refuge with my father; and I had no other relative or friend 
whom I could trust. Where then should I fly? At last I 
bethought me of a retreat, and arranged a plan of escape with 
Elizabeth Device. Vain were my precautions. On that very 
night, I was startled from slumber by a sudden cry from the 
nurse, who was seated by the fire, with the child on her knees. 
It was long past midnight, and all the household were at rest. 
Two persons had entered the room. One was my ruthless 
husband, Richard Nutter ; the other was John Device, a powerful 
ruffianly fellow, who planted himself near the door. 

" Marching quickly towards Elizabeth, who had arisen on 
seeing him, my husband snatched the child from her before I 
could seize it, and with a violent blow on the chest felled me to 
the ground, where I lay helpless, speechless. With reeling senses 
I heard Elizabeth cry out that it was her own child, and call upon 
her husband to save it. Richard Nutter paused, but re-assured 
by a laugh of disbelief from his ruffianly follower, he told Elizabeth 
the pitiful excuse would not avail to save the brat. And then I 
saw a weapon gleam there was a feeble piteous cry a cry that 
might have moved a demon but it did not move him. With 
wicked words and blood-imbrued hands he cast the body on the 
fire. The horrid sight was too much for me, and I became 
senseless." 

" A dreadful tale, indeed, madam ! " cried Alizon, frozen with 
horror, 

" The crime was hidden hidden from the eyes of men, but 
mark the retribution that followed," said Mistress Nutter; her 
eyes sparkling with vindictive joy. " Of the two murderers 
both perished miserably. John Device was drowned in a moss- 
pool. Richard Nutter's end was terrible, sharpened by the pangs 
of remorse, and marked by /rightful suffering. But another dark 
event preceded his death, which may have laid a crime the more 
on his already heavily-burdened soul. Edward Braddyll, the 
object of his jealousy and Late, suddenly sickened of a malady so 
strange and fearful, that all who saw him affirmed it the result of 
witchcraft. None thought of my husband's agency in the dark 



154 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

affair except myself; but knowing he had held many secret confe 
rences about the time with Mother Chattox, I more than 
suspected him. The sick man died ; and from that hour Richard 
Nutter knew no rest. Ever on horseback, or fiercely carousing, 
he sought in vain to stifle remorse. Visions scared him by night, 
and vague fears pursued him by day. He would start at shadows, 
and talk wildly. To me his whole demeanour was altered ; and 
he strove by every means in his power to win my love. But he 
could not give me back the treasure he had taken. He could 
not bring to life my murdered babe. Like his victim, he fell ill on 
a sudden, and of a strange and terrible sickness. I saw he could 
not recover, and therefore tended him carefully. He died ; and I 
shed no tear." 

" Alas !" exclaimed Alizon, " though guilty, I cannot but com 
passionate him." 

" You are right to do so, Alizon," said Mistress Nutter, rising, 
while the young girl rose too ; " for he was your father." 

i( My father ! v she exclaimed, in amazement. " Then you are 
my mother?" 

" I am I am," replied Mistress Nutter, straining her to her 
bosom. " Oh, my child! my dear child!" she cried. "The 
voice of nature from the first pleaded eloquently in your behalf, 
and I should have been deaf to all impulses of affection if I had 
not listened to the call. I now trace in every feature the 
lineaments of the babe I thought lost for ever. All is clear to me. 
The exclamation of Elizabeth Device, which, Like my ruthless 
husband, I looked upon as an artifice to save the infant's life, I 
now find to be the truth. Her child perished instead of mine. 
How or why she exchanged the infants on that night remains 
to be explained, but that she did so is certain; while that she 
should afterwards conceal the circumstance is easily comprehended, 
from a natural dread of her own husband as well as of mine. It 
is possible that from some cause she may still deny the truth, but 
I can make it her interest to speak plainly. The main difficulty 
will lie in my public acknowledgment of you. But, at whatever 
cost, it shall be made.* 

" Oh ! consider it well ;" said Alizon, " I will be your daughter 
in love in duty in all but name. But sully not my poor father's 
honour, which even at the peril of his soul he sought to maintain ! 
How can I be owned as your daughter without involving the dis 
covery of this tragic history ?" 

" You are right, Alizon," rejoined Mistress Nutter, thoughtfully. 
" It will bring the dark deed to light. But you shall never return 
to Elizabeth Device. You shall go with me to Rough Lee, and 
take up your abode in the house where I was once so wretched 
l)ut where I shall now be full of happiness with you. You shall 
Bee the dark spots on the hearth* which I took to be your 
blood." 



THE REVELATION. 15 

" If not mine, it was blood spilt by my father," said Alizon 
with a shudder. 

Was it fancy, or did a low groan break upon her earl It must 
be imaginary, for Mistress Nutter seemed unconscious of the 
dismal sound. It was now growing rapidly dark, and the more 
distant objects in the room were wrapped in obscurity ; but 
Alizon's gaze rested on the two monkish figures supporting 
the wardrobe. 

" Look there, mother," she said to Mistress Nutter. 

" Where ?" cried the lady, turning round quickly, " Ah ! I see. 
You alarm yourself needlessly, my child. Those are only carved 
figures of two brethren of the Abbey. They are said, I know not 
with what truth to be statues of John Paslew and Borlace 
Alvetham." 

" I thought they stirred," said Alizon. 

" It was mere fancy," replied Mistress Nutter. " Calm your 
self, sweet child. Let us think of other things of our newly 
discovered relationship. Henceforth, to me you are Millicent 
Nutter ; though to others you must still be Alizon Device. My 
sweet Millicent," she cried, embracing her again and again. " Ah, 
little little did I think to see you more!" 

Alizon's fears were speedily chased away. 

" Forgive me, dear mother," she cried, " if I have failed to 
express the full delight I experience in my restitution to you. 
The shock of your sad tale at first deadened my joy, while the 
suddenness of the information respecting myself so overwhelmed 
me, that like one chancing upon a hidden treasure, and gazing at 
it confounded, I was unable to credit my own good fortune. 
Kven now I am quite bewildered; and no wonder, for many 
thoughts, each of different import, throng upon me. Indepen 
dently of the pleasure and natural pride I must feel in being 
acknowledged by you as a daughter, it is a source of the 
deepest satisfaction to me to know that I am not, in any way, 
connected with Elizabeth Device not from her humble station 
for poverty weighs little with me in comparison with virtue and 
goodness but from her sinfulness. You know the dark offence 
laid to her charge ?" 

" I do," replied Mistress Nutter, in a low deep tone, " but I do 
not believe it" 

" Nor I," returned Alizon. " Still, she acts as if she were the 
wicked thing she is called ; avoids all religious offices ; shuns all 
places of worship; and derides the Holy Scriptures. Oh, mother! 
you will comprehend the frequent conflict of feelings I must have 
endured. You will understand my horror when I have sometimes 
thought myself the daughter of a witch." 

" Why did you not leave her if you thought so?" said Mistress 
Nutter, frowning. 



150 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" i could not leave her," replied Alizon, " for I then thought 
her my mother." 

Mistress Nutter fell upon her daughter's neck, and wept aloud. 
" You have an excellent heart, my child," she said at length, 
checking her emotion. 

"I have nothing to complain of in Elizabeth Device, dear 
mother," she replied. " What she denied herself, she did not 
refuse me ; and though I have necessarily many and great defi 
ciencies, you will find in me, I trust, no evil principles.' And, 
oh ! shall we not strive to rescue that poor benighted creature 
from the pit ? We may yet save her." 

" It is too late," replied Mistress Nutter in a sombre tone. 

(f It cannot be too late," said Alizon, confidently. " She cannot 
be beyond redemption. But even if she should prove intractable, 
poor little Jennet may be preserved. She is yet a child, with 
some good though, alas ! much evil, also in her nature. Let 
our united efforts be exerted in this good work, and we must 
succeed. The weeds extirpated, the flowers will spring up freely, 
and bloom in beauty." 

" I can have nothing to do with her," said Mistress Nutter, in 
a freezing tone " nor must you." 

" Oh ! say not so, mother," cried Alizon. " You rob me of 
half the happiness I feel in being restored to you. When I was 
Jennet's sister, I devoted myself to the task of reclaiming her. 
I hoped to be her guardian angel to step between her and the 
assaults of evil and I cannot, will not, now abandon her. If no 
longer my sister, she is still dear to me. And recollect that I 
owe a deep debt of gratitude to her mother a debt I can never 
pay." 

" How so?" cried Mistress Nutter. "You owe her nothing 
but the contrary." 

" I owe her a life," said Alizon. " Was not her infant's blood 
poured out for mine ! And shaU I not save the child left her, if I 
can?" 

" I shall not oppose your inclinations," replied Mistress Nutter, 
with reluctant assent ; " but Elizabeth, I suspect, will thank you 
little for your interference. 

" Not now, perhaps," returned Alizon ; " but a time will come 
when she will do so." 

While this conversation took place, it had been rapidly grow 
ing dark, and the gloom at length increased so much, that the 
speakers could scarcely see each other's faces. The sudden and 
portentous darkness was accounted for by a vivid flash of light 
ning, followed by a low growl of thunder rumbling over Whalley 
Nab. The mother and daughter drew close together, and Mistress 
Nutter passed her arm round Alizon's neck. 

The storm came quickly on, with forked and dangerous light- 



THE REVELATION. 157 

ning, and loud claps of thunder threatening mischief. Presently, 
all its fury seemed collected over the Abbey. The red flashes 
hissed, and the peals of thunder rolled overhead. But other 
terrors were added to Alizon's natural dread of the elemental 
warfare. Again she fancied the two monkish figures, which had 
before excited her alarm, moved, and even shook their arms 
menacingly at her. At first she attributed this wild idea to her 
overwrought imagination, and strove to convince herself of its 
fallacy by keeping her eyes steadily fixed upon them. But each 
succeeding flash only served to confirm her superstitious appre 
hensions. 

Another circumstance contributed to heighten her alarm. Scared 
most probably by the storm, a large white owl fluttered down the 
chimney, and after wheeling twice or thrice round the chamber, 
settled upon the bed, hooting, puffing, ruffling its feathers, and 
glaring at her with eyes that glowed like fiery coals. 

Mistress Nutter seemed Httle moved by the storm, though she 
kept a profound silence , but when Alizon gazed in her face, she 
was frightened by its expression, which reminded her of the terrible 
aspect she had worn at the interview with Mother Chattox. 

All at once Mistress Nutter arose, and, rapid as the lightning 
playing around her and revealing her movements, made several 
passes, with extended hands, over her daughter ; and on this the 
latter instantly fell back, as if fainting, though still retaining her 
consciousness ; and, what was stranger still, though her eyes were 
closed, her power of sight remained. 

In this condition she fancied invisible forms were moving about 
her. Strange sounds seemed to salute her ears, like the gibbering 
of ghosts, and she thought she felt the flapping of unseen wings 
around her. 

All at once her attention was drawn she knew not why 
towards the closet, and from out it she fancied she saw issue the 
tall dark figure of a man. She was sure she saw him; for her 
imagination could not body forth features charged with such a 
fiendish expression, or eyes of such unearthly lustre. He was 
clothed in black, but the fashion of his raiments was unlike aught 
she had ever seen. His stature was gigantic, and a pale phos 
phoric light enshrouded him. As he advanced, forked lightnings 
shot into the room, and the thunder split overhead The owl 
hooted fearfully, quitted its perch, and flew off by the way it had 
entered the chamber. 

The Dark Shape came on. It stood beside Mistress Nutter, 
and she prostrated herself before it. The gestures of the figure 
were angry and imperious those of Mistress Nutter supplicating. 
Their converse was drowned by the rattling of the storm. At 
last the figure pointed to Alizon, and the word " midnight" broke 
in tones louder than the thunder from its lips. All consciousness 
then forsook her. 



158 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

How long she continued in this state she Knew not, but the 
touch of a finger applied to her brow seemed to recall her sud 
denly to animation. She heaved a deep sigh, and looked around. 
A wondrous change had occurred. The storm had passed off, 
and the moon was shining brightly over the top of the cypress- 
tree, flooding the chamber with its gentle radiance, while her 
mother was bending over her with looks of tenderest affection. 

" You are better now, sweet child," said Mistress -Nutter. 
" You were overcome by the storm. It was sudden and terrible." 

"Terrible, indeed!" replied Alizon, imperfectly recalling what 
had passed. a But it was not alone the storm that frightened 
me. This chamber has been invaded by evil beings. Methought I 
beheld a dark figure come from out yon closet, and stand before you." 

" You have been thrown into a state of stupor by the influence 
of the electric fluid," replied Mistress Nutter, " and while in that 
condition visions have passed through your brain. That is all, 
my child." 

"Oh I I hope so," said Alizon. 

" Such ecstasies are of frequent occurrence," replied Mistress 
Nutter. " But, since you are quite recovered, we will descend to 
Lady Assheton, who may wonder at our absence. You will share 
this room with me to-night, my child; for, as I have already said, 
you cannot return to Elizabeth Device. I will make all needful 
explanations to Lady Assheton, and will see Elizabeth in the 
morning perhaps to-night. Reassure yourself, sweet child. 
There is nothing to fear. 

" I trust not, mother," replied Alizon. " But it would ease my 
mind to look into that closet." 

" Do so, then, by all means," replied Mistress Nutter with a 
forced smile. 

Alizon peeped timorously into the little room, which was lighted 
up by the moon's rays. There was a faded white habit, like the 
robe of a Cistertian monk, hanging in one corner, and beneath it 
an old chest. Alizon would fain have opened the chest, but 
Mistress Nutter called out to her impatiently, " You will discover 
nothing, I am sure. Come, let us go down-stairs." 

And they quitted the room together. 



CHAPTER IX. THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE 
BANQUETING-HALL. 

THE banqueting-hall lay immediately under the long gallery, 
corresponding with it in all but height ; and though in thia 
respect it fell somewhat short of the magnificent upper room, it 
was quite lofty enough to admit of a gallery of its own for spec 
tators and minstrels. Great pains had been taken in decorating 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETING-HA.LL. 159 

the hall for the occasion. Between the forest of stags' horns that 
branched from the gallery rails were hung rich carpets, intermixed 
with garlands of flowers, and banners painted with the arms of 
the Assheton family, were suspended from the corners. Over the 
fireplace, where, despite the advanced season, a pile of turf and 
wood was burning, were hung two panoplies of arms, and above 
them, on a bracket, was set a complete suit of mail, once belonging 
to Richard Assheton, the first possessor of the mansion. On the 
opposite wall hung two remarkable portraits the one represent 
ing a religious votaress in a loose robe of black, with wide sleeves, 
holding a rosary and missal in her hand, and having her brow 
and neck entirely concealed by the wimple, in which her head 
und shoulders were enveloped. Such of her features as could be 
seen were of extraordinary loveliness, though of a voluptuous 
character, the eyes being dark and languishing, and shaded by 
long lashes, and the lips carnation-hued and full. This was the 
fair votaress, Isole de Heton, who brought such scandal on the 
Abbey in the reign of Henry VI. The other portrait was that 
of an abbot, in the white gown and scapulary of the Cistertiah 
order. The countenance was proud and stern, but tinctured with 
melancholy. In a small shield at one corner the arms were bla 
zoned argent, a fess between three mullets, sable, pierced of the 
field, a crescent for difference proving it to be the portrait of John 
Paslew. Both pictures had been found in the abbot's lodgings, when 
taken possession of by Richard Assheton, but they owed their pre 
sent position to his descendant, Sir Ralph, who discovering them in 
an out-of-the-way closet, where they had been cast aside, and struck 
with their extraordinary merit, hung them up as above stated. 

The long oaken table, usually standing in the middle of the 
hall, had been removed to one side, to allow free scope for dan 
cing and other pastimes, but it was stih 1 devoted to hospitable 
uses, being covered with trenchers and drinking-cups, and spread 
for a substantial repast. Near it stood two carvers, with aprons 
round their waists, brandishing long knives, while other yeomen 
of the kitchen and cellar were at hand to keep the trenchers well 
supplied, and the cups filled with strong ale, orbragget, as might 
suit the taste of the guests. Nor were these the only festive 
preparations. The upper part of the hall was reserved for Sir 
Ralph's immediate friends, and here, on a slightly raised elevation, 
stood a cross table, spread for a goodly supper, the snowy napery 
being ornamented with wreaths and ropes of flowers, and shining 
with costly vessels. At the lower end of the room, beneath the 
gallery, which it served to support, was a Gothic screen, embel 
lishing an open armoury, which made a grand display of silver 
plates and flagons. Through one of the doorways contrived in 
this screen, the May-day revellers were ushered into the hall by 
old Adam Whitworth, the white-headed steward. 

u I pray you be seated, good masters, and you, too, comely 



160 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

dames," said Adam, leading them to the table, and assigning 
each a place with his wand. " Fall to, and spare not, for it is my 
honoured master's desire you should sup well. You will find 
that venison pasty worth a trial, and the baked red deer in the 
centre of the table is a noble dish. The fellow to it was served 
at Sir Ralph's own table at dinner, and was pronounced excellent. 
I pray you try it, masters. Here, Ned Scargill, mind your office, 
good fellow, and break me that deer. And you, Paul Pimlot, 
exercise your craft on the venison pasty." 

And as trencher after trencher was rapidly filled by the two 
carvers, who demeaned themselves in their task like men ac 
quainted with the powers of rustic appetite, the old steward 
addressed himself to the dames. 

(e What can I do for you, fair mistresses 1" he said. " Here be 
sack possets, junkets and cream, for such as like them French 
puffs and Italian puddings, right good, I warrant you, and espe 
cially admired by my honourable good lady. Indeed, I am not 
sure she hath not lent a hand herself in their preparation. Then 
here be fritters in the court fashion, made with curds of sack 
posset, eggs and ale, and seasoned with nutmeg and pepper. 
You will taste them, I am sure, for they are favourites with our 
sovereign lady, the queen. Here, Gregory, Dickon bestir your 
selves, knaves, and pour forth a cup of sack for each of these 
dames. As you drink, mistresses, neglect not the health of our 
honourable good master Sir Ralph, and his lady. It is well it is 
well. I will convey to them both your dutiful good wishes. But I 
must see all your wants supplied. Good Dame Openshaw, you have 
nought before you. Be prevailed upon to taste these dropt 
raisins or a fond pudding And you, too, sweet Dame Tetlow. 
Squire Nicholas gave me special caution to take care of you, but 
the injunction was unneeded, as I should have done so without 
it. Another cup of canary to Dame Tetlow, Gregory. Fill to 
the brim, knave to the very brim. To the health of Squire 
Nicholas," he added in a low tone, as he handed the brimming 
goblet to the blushing dame ; " and be sure and tell him, if he 
questions you, that I obeyed his behests to the best of my ability. 
I pray you taste this pippin jelly, dame. It is as red as rubies, 
but not so red as your lips , or some leach of almonds, which, 
lily-white though it be, is not to be compared with the teeth that 
shall touch it." 

" Odd's heart ! mester steward, yo mun ha' larnt that protty 
speech fro' th' squoire himself," replied Dame Tetlow, laughing. 

rt It may be the recollection of something said to me by him, 
brought to mind by your presence," replied Adam Whitworth, 
gallantly. " If I can serve you in aught else, sign to me, dame. 
Now, knaves, fill the cups ale or bragget, at your pleasure 
masters. Drink and stint not, and you will the better please 
your liberal entertainer and my honoured master." 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETING-HALL. 101 

Thus exhorted, the guests set seriously to work to fulfil the 
hospitable intentions of the provider of the feast. Cups flowed 
fast and freely, and erelong little was left of the venison pasty 
but the outer crust, and nothing more than a few fragments of the 
baked red deer. The lighter articles then came in for a share of 
attention, and salmon from the Kibble, jack, trout, and eels from 
the Hodder and Calder, boiled, broiled, stewed, and pickled, and 
of delicious flavour, were discussed with infinite relish. Puddings 
and pastry were left to more delicate stomachs the solids only 
being in request with the men. Hitherto, the demolition of the 
viands had given sufficient employment , but now the edge of 
appetite beginning to be dulled, tongues were unloosed, and much 
merriment prevailed. More than eighty in number, the guests 
were dispersed without any regard to order, and thus the chief 
actors in the revel were scattered promiscuously about the table, 
diversifying it with their gay costumes. Robin Hood sat between 
two pretty female morris-dancers, whose partners had got to the 
other end of the table ; while Ned Huddlestone, the representative 
of Friar Tuck, was equally fortunate, having a buxom dame on 
either side of him, towards whom he distributed his favours with 
singular impartiality. As porter to the Abbey, Ned made him 
self at home ; and, next to Adam Whitworth, was perhaps the 
most important personage present, continually roaring for ale, 
and pledging the damsels around him. From the way he went 
on, it seemed highly probable he would be under the table before 
supper was over ; but Ned Huddlestone, like the burly priest 
whose gown he wore, had a stout bullet head, proof against all 
assaults of liquor ; and the copious draughts he swallowed, instead 
of subduing him, only tended to make him more uproarious. 
Blessed also with lusty lungs, his shouts of laughter made the roof 
ring again. But if the strong liquor failed to make due impression 
upon him, the like cannot be said of Jack Roby, who, it will 
be remembered, took the part of the Fool, and who, having drunk 
overmuch, mistook the hobby-horse for a real steed, and in an 
effort to bestride it, fell head-foremost on the floor, and, being found 
incapable of rising, was carried out to an adjoining room, and laid 
on a bench. This, however, was the only case of excess ; for though 
the Sherwood foresters emptied their cups often enough to 
heighten their mirth, none of them seemed the worse for what 
they drank. Lawrence Blackrod, Mr. Parker's keeper, had 
fortunately got next to his old flame, Sukey Worseley ; while 
Phil Rawson, the forester, who enacted Will Scarlet, and Nancy 
Holt, between whom an equally tender feeling subsisted, had 
likewise got together. A little beyond them sat the gentleman 
usher and parish clerk, Sampson Harrop, who, piquing himself OD 
his good manners, drank very sparingly, and was content to sup 
on sweetmeats and a bowl of fleetings, as curds separated from 
whey are termed in this district. Tom the piper, and his companion 



162 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

the laborer, ate for the next week, but were somewhat more 
sparing in the matter of drink, their services as minstrels being 
required later on. Thus the various guests enjoyed themselves 
according to their bent, and universal hilarity prevailed. It would 
be strange indeed if it had been otherwise ; for what with the good 
cheer, and the bright eyes around them, the rustics had attained 
a point of felicity not Kkely to be surpassed. Of the numerous 
assemblage more than half were of the fairer sex ; and of these the 
greater portion were young and good-looking, while in th'e case 
of the morris-dancers, their natural charms were heightened by 
their fanciful attire. 

Before supper was half over, it became so dark that it was found 
necessary to illuminate the great lamp suspended from the centre 
of the roof, while other lights were set on the board, and two 
flaming torches placed in sockets on either side of the chimney- 
piece. Scarcely was this accomplished when the storm came on, 
much to the surprise of the weatherwise, who had not calculated 
upon such an occurrence, not having seen any indications whatever 
of it in the heavens. But all were too comfortably sheltered, and 
too well employed, to pay much attention to what was going on 
without ; and, unless when a flash of lightning more than usually 
vivid dazzled the gaze, or a peal of thunder more appalling than the 
rest broke overhead, no alarm was expressed, even by the women. 
To be sure, a little pretty trepidation was now and then evinced 
by the younger damsels ; but even this was only done with the 
view of exacting attention on the part of their swains, and never 
failed in effect. The thunder-storm, therefore, instead of putting 
a stop to the general enjoyment, only tended to increase it. 
However the last peal was loud enough to silence the most up 
roarious. The women turned pale, and the men looked at each 
other anxiously, listening to hear if any damage had been done. 
But, as nothing transpired, their spirits revived. A few minutes 
afterwards word was brought that the Conventual ChurcL had 
been struck by a thunderbolt, but this was not regarded as a 
very serious disaster. The bearer of the intelligence was little 
Jennet, who said she had been caught in the ruins by the storm, 
and after being dreadfully frightened by the lightning, had seen 
a bolt strike the steeple, and heard some stones rattle down, after 
which she ran away. No one thought of inquiring what she had 
been doing there at the time, but room was made for her at the 
supper-table next to Sampson Harrop, while the good steward, 
patting her on the head, filled her a cup of canary with his own 
hand, and gave her some cates to eat. 

" Ey dunna see Alizon" observed the little girl, looking round 
the table, after she had drunk the wine. 

" Your sister is not here, Jennet," replied Adam Whitworth, 
with a smile. " She is too great a lady for us now. Since she 
came up with her ladyship from the green she has been treated 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETING-HALL. 163 

quite like one of the guests, and has been walking about the garden 
and ruins all the afternoon with young Mistress Dorothy, who has 
taken quite a fancy to her. Indeed, for the matter of that, all the 
ladies seem to have taken a fancy to her, and she is now closeted 
with Mistress Nutter in her own room." 

This was gall and wormwood to Jennet. 

" She'll be hard to please when she goes home again, after 
playing the fine dame here," pursued the steward. 

a Then ey hope she'll never come home again," rejoined Jennet, 
spitefully, u fo' we dunna want fine dames i' our poor cottage." 

" For my part I do not wonder Alizon pleases the gentle folks/* 
observed Sampson Harrop, il since such pains have been taken 
with her manners and education ; and I must say she does great 
credit to her instructor, who, for reasons unnecessary to mention, 
shall be nameless. I wish I could say the same for you, Jennet ; 
but though you're not deficient in ability, you've no perseverance 
or pleasure in study." 

" Ey knoa os much os ey care to knoa," replied Jennet, " an 
more than yo con teach me, Mester Harrop. Why is Alizon 
always to be thrown i' my teeth ? " 

" Because she's the best model you can have," rejoined Samp 
son. " Ah ! if I'd my own way wi' ye, lass, I'd mend your temper 
and manners. But you come of an ill stock, ye saucy hussy." 

u Ey come fro' th' same stock as Alizon, onny how," said 
Jennet. 

u Unluckily that cannot be denied," replied Sampson ; u but 
you're as different from her as light from darkness." 

Jennet eyed him bitterly, and then rose from the table. 

" Ey'n go," she said. 

" No no ; sit down," interposed the good-natured steward. 
** The dancing and pastimes will begin presently, and you will see 
your sister. She will come down with the ladies." 

u That's the very reason she wishes to go," said Sampson 
Harrop. " The spiteful little creature cannot bear to see her 
sister better treated than herself. Go your ways, then. It is the 
best thing you can do. Alizon would blush to see you here." 

" Then ey'n een stay an vex her," replied Jennet, sharply; " boh 
ey winna sit near yo onny longer, Mester Sampson Harrop, who 
ca' yersel gentleman usher, boh who are nah gentleman at aw, nor 
owt like it, boh merely parish clerk an schoolm ester, an a poor 
schoolmester to boot. Eyn go an sit by Sukey Worseley an Nancy 
Holt, whom ey see yonder." 

" You've found your match, Master Harrop," said the steward, 
laughing, as the little girl walked away. 

" I should account it a disgrace to bandy words with the like of 
her, Adam," rejoined the clerk, angrily ; " but I'm greatly out in 
my reckoning, if she does not make a second Mother Demdike, 
and worse could not well befall her." 



164 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Jennet's society could have been very well dispensed with by 
her two friends, but she would not be shaken off. On the contrary, 
finding herself in the way, she only determined the more pertina 
ciously to remain, and began to exercise all her powers of teasing, 
which have been described as considerable, and which on this 
occasion proved eminently successful. And the worst of it was, 
there was no crushing the plaguy little insect ; any effort made to 
catch her only resulting in an escape on her part, and a new charge 
on some undefended quarter, with sharper stinging and nlore in 
tolerable buzzing than ever. 

Out of all patience, Sukey Worseley at length exclaimed, " Ey 
should loike to see ye swum, crosswise, i' th' Calder, Jennet, as 
Nance Redferne war this efternoon." 

" May be ye would, Sukey," replied the little girl, " boh eym 
nah so likely to be tried that way as yourself, lass ; an if ey war 
swum ey should sink, while yo, wi' your broad back and shouthers, 
would be sure to float, an then yo'd be counted a witch." 

" Heed her not, Sukey," said Blackrod, unable to resist a laugh, 
though the poor girl was greatly discomfited by this personal al 
lusion ; ye may ha' a broad back o' our own, an the broader the 
better to my mind, boh mey word on't ye'U never be ta'en fo a 
witch. Yo're far too comely." 

This assurance was a balm to poor Sukey's wounded spirit, and 
she replied with a well-pleased smile, <e Ey hope ey dunna look 
like one, Lorry." 

" Not a bit, lass," said Blackrod, lifting a huge ale-cup to his 
lips. u Your health, sweetheart." 

u What think ye then o' Nance Redferne ? " observed Jennet. 
" Is she neaw comely ? ay, comelier far than fat, fubsy Sukey 
here or than Nancy Holt, wi' her yallo mire anfrecklet feace an 
yet ye ca' her a witch/ 

" Ey ca' thee one, theaw feaw little whean an the dowter an 
grandowter o' one an that's more," cried Nancy. " Freckles i' 
your own feace, ye mismannert minx." 

" Ne'er heed her, Nance," said Phil Rawson, putting his arm 
round the angry damsel's waist, and drawing her gently down, 
" Every one to his taste, an freckles an yellow hure are so to mine. 
So dunna fret about it, an spoil your protty lips wi' pouting. 
Better ha' freckles o' your feace than spots o' your heart, loike that 
ill-favort little hussy." 

" Dunna offend her, Phil," said Nancy Holt, noticing with alarm 
the malignant look fixed upon her lover by Jennet. " She's dawn- 
gerous." 

" Firrups tak her !" replied Phil Rawson. " Boh who the dule's 
that ? Ey didna notice him efore, an he's neaw one o' our party." 

The latter observation was occasioned by the entrance of a tall 
personage, in the garb of a Cistertian monk, who issued from one 
of the doorways in the screen, and glided towards the upper table, 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETIXG-HALL. 165 

attracting general attention and misgiving as he proceeded. His 
countenance was cadaverous, his lips livid, and his eyes black and 
deep sunken in their sockets, with a bistre-coloured circle around 
them. His frame was meagre and bony. What remained of hair 
on his head was raven black, but either he was bald on the crown, 
or carried his attention to costume so far as to adopt the priestly 
tonsure. His forehead was lofty and sallow, and seemed stamped, 
like his features, with profound gloom. His garments were faded 
and mouldering, and materially contributed to his ghostly appear 
ance. 

" Who is it?" cried Sukey and Nance together. 

But no one could answer the question. 

" He dusna look loike a bein' o' this warld," observed Blackrod, 
gaping with alarm, for the stout keeper was easily assailable on 
the side of superstition ; " an there is a mowdy air about him, 
that gies one the shivers to see. Ey've often heer'd say the Abbey 
is haanted; an that pale-feaced chap looks like one o' th' owd 
monks risen fro' his grave to join our revel." 

" An see, he looks this way," cried Phil Rawson. 

" What flaming een ! they mey the very flesh crawl o* one's 
booans.' 

"Is it a ghost, Lorry?" said Sukey, drawing nearer to the 
stalwart keeper. 

" By th' masking, lass, ey conna tell," replied Blackrod ; " boh 
whotever it be, ey'll protect ye." 

" Tak care o' me, Phil," ejaculated Nancy Holt, pressing close 
to her lover's side. 

" Eigh, that I win," rejoined the forester. 

" Ey dunna care for ghosts so long as yo are near me, Phil," 
said Nancy, tenderly. 

" Then ey'n never leave ye, Nance," replied Phil. 

" Ghost or not," said Jennet, who had been occupied in re 
garding the new-comer attentively, u ey'n go an speak to it. Ey'm 
nah afeerd, if yo are." 

" Eigh do, Jennet, that's a brave little lass," said Blackrod, glad 
to be rid of her in any way. 

" Stay ! " cried Adam Whitworth, coming up at the moment, 
and overhearing what was said " you must not go near the gen 
tleman. 1 will not have him molested, or even spoken with, till 
Sir Ralph appears." 

Meanwhile, the stranger, without returning the glances fixed 
upon him, or deigning to notice any of the company, pursued his 
way, and* sat down in a chair at the upper table. 

But his entrance had been witnessed by others besides the rustic 
guests and servitors. Nicholas and Richard Assheton chanced to 
be in the gallery at the time, and, greatly struck by the singularity 
of his appearance, immediately descended to make inquiries re- 



1GG THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

specting him. As they appeared below, the old steward advanced 
to meet them. 

" Who the devil have you got there, Adam ?" asked the squire. 

" It passeth me almost to tell you, Master N icholas," replied 
the steward; " and,not knowing whether the gontleman be invited 
or not, I am fain to wait Sir Ralph's pleasure in regard to him." 

" Have you no notion who he is ?" inquired Richard. 

" All I know about him may be soon told, Master Richard," re 
plied Adam. u He is a stranger in these parts, and, hath very 
recently taken up his abode in Wiswall Flail, which has been 
abandoned of late years, as you know, and suffered to go to decay. 
Some few months ago an aged couple from Colne, named Hewit, 
took possession of part of the hall, and were suffered to remain there, 
though old Katty Hewit, or Mould-heels, as she is familiarly term 
ed by the common folk, is in no very good repute hereabouts, and 
was driven, it is said from Colne, owing to her practices as a witch. 
Be that as it may, soon after these Hewits were settled at Wis 
wall, comes this stranger, and fixes himself in another part of the 
hall. How he lives 110 one can tell, but it is said he rambles all 
night long, like a troubled spirit, about the deserted rooms, at 
tended by Mother Mould-heels ; while in the daytime he is never 
seen." 

" Can he be of sound mind ?" asked Richard. 

" Hardly so, I should think, Master Richard," replied the stew 
ard. " As to who he may be there are many opinions ; and some 
aver he is Francis Paslew, grandson of Francis, brother to the 
abbot, and being a Jesuit priest, for you know the Paslews have 
all strictly adhered to the old faith and that is why they have 
fled the country and abandoned their residence he is obliged to 
keep himself concealed." 

" If such be the case, he must be crazed indeed to venture here," 
observed Nicholas ; "and yet I am half inclined to credit the report. 
Look at him, Dick. He is the very image of the old abbot." 

" Yon portrait might have been painted for him," said Richard, 
gazing at the picture on the wall, and from it to the monk as he 
spoke; ''the very same garb, too." 

" There is an old monastic robe up-stairs, in the closet adjoining 
the room occupied by Mistress Nutter," observed the steward, 
" said to be the garment in which Abbot Paslew suffered death. 
Some stains are upon it, supposed to be the blood of the wizard 
Demdike, who perished in an extraordinary manner on the same 
day." 

" I have seen it," cried Nicholas, " and the monk's habit looks 
precisely like it, and, if my eyes deceive me not, is stained in the 
same manner." 

" I see the spots plainly on the breast," cried Richard. ** How- 
can he have procured the robe?" 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETING-HALL. 167 

" Heaven only knows," replied the old steward. " It is a 
very strange occurrence." 

" I will go question him," said Richard. 

So saying, he proceeded to the upper table, accompanied by 
Nicholas. As they drew near, the stranger arose, and fixed a 
grim look upon Richard, who was a little in advance. 

"It is the abbot's ghost!" cried Nicholas, stopping, and 
detaining his cousin. " You shall not address it." 

During the contention that ensued, the monk glided towards a 
side-door at the upper end of the hah 1 , and passed through it. 
So general was the consternation, that no one attempted to stay 
him, nor would any one follow to see whither he went. Released, 
at length, from the strong grasp of the squire, Richard rushed 
forth, and not returning, Nicholas, after the lapse of a few 
minutes, went in search of him, but came back presently, and 
told the old steward he could neither find him nor the monk. 

66 Master Richard will be back anon, I dare say, Adam," he 
remarked; " if not, I will make further search for him; but you 
had better not mention this mysterious occurrence to Sir Ralph, 
at all events not until the festivities are over, and the ladies have 
retired. It might disturb them. I fear the appearance of this 
monk bodes no good to our family ; and what makes it worse is, 
it is not the first ill omen that has befallen us to-day, Master 
Richard was unlucky enough to stand on Abbot Paslew's grave !" 

a Mercy on us! that was unlucky indeed !" cried Adam, in 
great trepidation. " Poor dear young gentleman ! Bid him take 
especial care of himself, good Master Nicholas. I noticed just 
now, that yon fearsome monk regarded him more attentively 
than you. Bid him be careful, I conjure you, sir. But here 
comes my honoured master and his guests. Here, Gregory, 
Dickon, bestir yourselves, knaves ; and serve supper at the upper 
table in a trice." 

Any apprehensions Nicholas might entertain for Richard were 
at this moment relieved, for as Sir Ralph and his guests came in 
at one door, the young man entered by another. He looked 
deathly pale. Nicholas put his finger to his lips in token of 
silence a gesture which the other signified that he understood. 

Sir Ralph and his guests having taken their places at the table, 
an excellent and plentiful repast was speedily set before them, 
and if they did not do quite such ample justice to it as the hungry 
rustics at the lower board had done to the good things provided 
for them, the cook could not reasonably complain. No allusion 
whatever being made to the recent strange occurrence, the cheer 
fulness of the company was uninterrupted ; but the noise in the 
lower part of the hah 1 had in a great measure subsided, partly out 
of respect to the host, and partly in consequence of the alarm 
occasioned by the supposed supernatural visitation. Richard 
continued silent and preoccupied, and neither ate nor drank ; but 



1(38 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Nicholas appearing to think his courage would be best sustained 
by an extra allowance of clary and sack, applied himself fre 
quently to the goblet with that view, and erelong hi? spirits 
improved so wonderfully, and his natural boldness was so much 
increased, that he was ready to confront Abbot Paslew, or any 
other abbot of them all, wherever they might chance to cross 
him. In this enterprising frame of mind he drew Richard aside, 
and questioned him as to what had taken place in his pursuit of 
the mysterious monk. 

" You overtook him, Dick, of course?" he said, " and put it 
to him roundly why he came hither, where neither ghosts nor 
Jesuit priests, whichever he may be, are wanted. What an 
swered he, eh 1 Would I had been there to interrogate him ! 
He should have declared how he became possessed of that old 
moth-eaten, blood-stained, monkish gown, or I would have 
unfrocked him, even if he had proved to be a skeleton. But I 
interrupt you. You have not told me what occurred at the 
interview?" 

" There was no interview," replied Richard, gravely. 

"No interview!" echoed Nicholas. i( S'blood, man ! but I 
must be careful, for Doctor Ormerod and Parson Dewhurst are 
within hearing, and may lecture me on the wantonness and pro 
fanity of swearing. By Saint Gregory de Northbury ! no, 
that's an oath too, and, what is worse, a Popish oath. By I 
have several tremendous imprecations at my tongue's end, but 
they shall not out. It is a sinful propensity, and must be con 
trolled. In a word, then, you let him escape, Dick 1 " 

" If you were so anxious to stay him, I wonder you came not 
with me," replied Richard; " but you now hold very different 
language from what you used when I quitted the hall.'* 

" Ah, true right Dick," replied Nicholas ; " my sentiments 
have undergone a wonderful change since then. I now regret 
having stopped you. By my troth ! if I meet ^at confounded 
monk again, he shall give a good account of himself, I promise 
him. But what said he to you, Dick ? Make an end of your 
story." 

" I have not begun it yet," replied Richard. " But pay atten 
tion, and you shah 1 hear what occurred. When I rushed forth, 
the monk had already gained the entrance-hall. No one was 
within it at the time, all the serving-men being busied here with 
the feasting. I summoned him to stay, but he answered not, 
and, still grimly regarding me, glided towards the outer door, 
which CL know not by what chance) stood open, and passing 
through it, closed it upon me. This delayed me a moment ; and 
when I got out, he had already descended the steps, and was 
moving towards the garden. It was bright moonlight, so I could 
see him distinctly. And mark this, Nicholas the two great 
blood-hounds were running about at large in the court-yard, but 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETINU-H ALL. 1 fiO 

they slunk off, as if alarmed at his appearance. The monk had 
now gained the garden, and was shaping his course swiftly 
towards the ruined Conventual Church. Determined to overtake 
him, I quickened my pace ; but he gained the old fane before me, 
and threaded the broken aisles with noiseless celerity. In the 
choir he paused and confronted me. When within a few yards 
of him, I paused, arrested by his fixed and terrible gaze. Nicholas, 
his look froze my blood. I would have spoken, but I could not. 
My tongue clove to the roof of my mouth for very fear. Before 
I could shake off this apprehension the figure raised its hand 
menacingly thrice, and passed into the Lacy Chapel. As soon 
as he was gone my courage returned, and I followed. The little 
chapel was brilliantly illuminated by the moon ; but it was empty. 
I could only see the white monument of Sir Henry de Lacy 
glistening in the pale radiance." 

" 1 must take a cup of wine after this horrific relation," said 
Nicholas, replenishing his goblet. " It has chilled my blood, as 
the monk's icy gaze froze yours. Body o' me ! but this is strange 
indeed. Another oath. Lord help me ! I shall never get rid 
of the infernal I mean, the evil habit. Will you not pledge 
me, Dick?" 

The young man shook his head. 

" You are wrong," pursued Nicholas, " decidedly wrong. 
Wine gladdeneth the heart of man, and restoreth courage. A 
short while ago I was downcast as you, melancholy as an owl, 
and timorous as a kid, but now I am resolute as an eagle, stout 
of heart, and cheerful of spirit ; and all owing to a cup of wine. 
Try the remedy, Dick, and get rid of your gloom. You look 
like a death's-head at a festival. What if you have stumbled on 
an ill-omened grave ! What if you have been banned by a 
witch ! What if you have stood face to face with the devil or 
a ghost ! Heed them not ! Drink, and set care at defiance. 
And, not to gainsay my own counsel, I shall fill my cup again. 
For, in good sooth, this is rare clary, Dick ; and, talking of wine, 
you should taste some of the wonderful Rhenish found in the 
abbot's cellar by our ancestor, Richard Assheton a century old 
if it be a day, and yet cordial and corroborative as ever. Those 
monks were lusty tipplers, Dick. I sometimes wish I had been 
an abbot myself. I should have made a rare father confessor 
especially to a pretty penitent. Here, Gregory, hie thee to the 
master cellarer, and bid him fill me a goblet of the old Rhenish 
the wine from the abbot's cellar. Thou understandest or, 
stay, better bring the flask. I have a profound respect for the 
venerable bottle, and would pay my devoirs to it. Hie away, 
good fellow!" 

u You will drink too much if you go on thus," remarked 
Richard. 

" Not a drop," rejoined Nicholas. " I am blithe as a lark, and 



170 THE LANCASHIRE AVITCI1ES. 

would keep so. That is why I drink. But to return to our 

f hosts. Since this place must be haunted, I would it were visited 
y spirits of a livelier kind than old Paslew. There is I sole de 
Heton, for instance. The fair votaress would be the sort of ghost 
for me. I would not turn my back on her, but face her manfully. 
Look at her picture, Dick. Was ever countenance sweeter than 
hers lips more tempting, or eyes more melting! Is she not 
adorable? Zounds !" he exclaimed, suddenly pausing, and staring 
nt the portrait u Would you believe it, Dick ? The fair Isole 
winked at me I'll swear she did. I mean I will venture to 
affirm upon oath, if required, that she winked." 

" Pshaw!" exclaimed Richard. "The fumes of the wine have 
mounted to your brain, and disordered it." 

" No such thing," cried Nicholas, regarding the picture as 
steadily as he could" she's leering at me now. By the Queen 
of Paphos ! another wink. Nay, if you doubt me, watch her well 
yourself. A pleasant adventure this ha! ha!" 

"A truce to this drunken foolery," cried Richard, moving 
away. 

"Drunken! s'death! recall that epithet, Dick," cried Nicholas, 
angrily. " I am no more drunk than yourself, you dog. I can 
walk as steadily, and see as plainly, as you ; and I will maintain 
it at the point of the sword, that the eyes of that picture have 
lovingly regarded me ; nay, that they follow me now." 

u A common delusion with a portrait," said Richard ; they 
appear to follow me? 

6i But they do not wink at you as they do at me," said Nicholas, 
u neither do the lips break into smiles, and display the pearly 
teeth beneath them, as occurs in my case. Grim old abbots 
frown on you, but fair, though frail, votaresses smile on me. I 
am the favoured mortal, Dick." 

" Were it as you represent, Nicholas," replied Richard, gravely, 
" I should say, indeed, that some evil principle was at work to 
lure you through your passions to perdition. But I know they 
are all fancies engendered by your heated brain, which in your 
calmer moments you will discard, as I discard them now. If I 
have any weight with you, I counsel you to drink no more, or 
you will commit some mad foolery, of which you will be ashamed 
hereafter. The discreeter course would be to retire altogether ; 
and for this you have ample excuse, as you will have to arise 
betimes to-morrow, to set out for Pendle Forest with Master 
Potts." 

" Retire !" exclaimed Nicholas, bursting into a loud, con 
temptuous laugh. " I like thy counsel, lad. Yes, I will retire 
when I have finished the old monastic Rhenish which Gregory is 
bringing me. I will retire when I have danced the Morisco with 
the May Queen the Cushion Dance with Dame Tetlow and 
the Brawl with the lovely Isole de Heton. Another wink, Dick. 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETING-HALL. 171 

By our Lady! she assents to my proposition. When I have done 
all this, and somewhat more, it will be time to think of retiring. 
But I have the night before me, Dick not to be spent in drowsy 
unconsciousness, as thou recommendest, but in active, pleasurable 
enjoyment. No man requires less sleep than I do. Ordinarily, 
I ' retire,' as thou termest it, at ten, and rise with the sun. In 
summer I am abroad soon after three, and mend that if thou 
canst, Dick. To-night 1 shall seek my couch about midnight, 
and yet I'll warrant me I shall be the first stirring in the Abbey; 
and, in any case, I shall be in the saddle before thee." 

a It may be," replied Richard ; " but it was to preserve you 
from extravagance to-night that I volunteered advice, which, from 
my knowledge of your character, I might as well have withheld. 
But let me caution you on another point. Dance with Dame 
Tetlow, or any other dame you please dance with the fair Isole 
de Heton, if you can prevail upon her to descend from her frame 
and give you her hand ; but I object most decidedly object to 
your dancing with Alizon Device." 

"Why so?" cried Nicholas; "why should I not dance with 
whom I please ? And what right hast thou to forbid me Alizon ? 
Troth, lad, art thou so ignorant of human nature as not to know 
that forbidden fruit is the sweetest. It hath ever been so since 
the fall. 1 am now only the more bent upon dancing with the 
prohibited damsel. But I would fain know the principle on which 
thou erectest thyself into her guardian. Is it because she fainted 
when thy sword was crossed with that hot-headed fool, Sir Thomas 
Metcalfe, that thou flatterest thyself she is in love with thee? Be 
not too sure of it, Dick. Many a timid wench has swooned at 
the sight of a naked weapon, without being enamoured of the 
swordsman. The fainting proves nothing. But grant she loves 
thee what then ? An end must speedily come of it ; so better 
finish at once, before she be entangled in a mesh from which she 
cannot be extricated without danger. For hark thee, Dick, what 
ever thou mayst think, I am not so far gone that I know not what 
I say, neither is my vision so much obscured that I see not some 
matters plainly enough, and I understand thee and Alizon well, 
and see through you both. This matter must go no further. 
It has gone too far already. After to-night you must see her no 
more. I am serious in this serious inter pocula, if such a thing 
can be. It is necessary to observe caution, for reasons that will 
at once occur to thee. Thou canst not wed this girl then why 
trifle with her till her heart be broken." 

" Broken it shah* never be by me I" cried Richard. 
st But I tell you it will be broken, if you do not desist at once," 
rejoined Nicholas. ft I was but jesting when I said I would rob 
you of her in the Morisco, though it would be charity to both, 
and spare you many a pang hereafter, were I to put my threat 
into execution. However, I have a soft heart where aught of 



172 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

love is concerned, and, having pointed out the risk you will incur, 
I shall leave you to follow your own devices. But, for Alizon' s 
sake, stop in time." 

" You now speak soberly and sensibly enough, Nicholas," replied 
Richard, " and I thank you heartily for your counsel ; and if I 
do not follow it by withdrawing at once from a pursuit which may 
appear to you hopeless, if not dangerous, you will, I hope, give 
me credit for being actuated by worthy motives. I wiU at qnce, 
and frankly admit, that I love Alizon ; and loving her, you may 
rest assured I would sacrifice my life a thousand times rather than 
endanger her happiness. But there is a point in her history, with 
which if you were acquainted, it might alter your view of the 
case ; but this is not the season for its disclosure, neither, I am 
bound to say, does the circumstance so materially alter the appa 
rent posture of affairs as to remove all difficulty. On the contrary, 
it leaves an insurmountable obstacle behind it." 

"Are you wise, then, in going on?" asked Nicholas. 

" I know not," answered Richard, "but I feel as if I were the 
sport of fate. Uncertain whither to turn for the best, I leave 
the disposition of my course to chance. But, alas !" he added, 
sadly, " all seems to point out that this meeting with Alizon will 
be my last." 

" Well, cheer up, lad," said Nicholas. " These afflictions are 
hard to bear, it is true ; but somehow they are got over. Just 
as if your horse should fling you in the midst of a hedge when 
you are making a flying leap, you get scratched and bruised, but 
you scramble out, and in a day or two are on your legs again. 
Love breaks no bones, that's one comfort. When at your age, I 
was desperately in love, not with Mistress Nicholas Assheton 
Heaven help the fond soul ! but with never mind with whom ; 
but it was not a very prudent match, and so, in my worldly wis 
dom, I was obliged to. cry off'. A sad business it was. I thought 
I should have died of it, and I made quite sure that the devoted 
girl would die first, in which case we were to occupy the same 
grave. But I was not driven to such a dire extremity, for before 
I had kept house a week, Jack Walker, the keeper of Downham, 
made his appearance in my room, and after telling me of the 
mischief done by a pair of otters in the Ribble, finding me in a 
very desponding state, ventured to inquire if I had heard the 
news. Expecting to hear of the death of the girl, I prepared 
myself for an outburst of grief, and resolved to give in-mediate 
directions for a double funeral, when he informed me what do 
you think, Dick ? that she was going to be married to himself. 
I recovered at once, and immediately went out to hunt the otters, 
and rare sport we had. But here comes Gregory with the famous 
old RhenisL. Better take a cup, Dick; this is the best cure for 
the heartache, and for all other aches and grievances. Ah ! glo 
rious stuff miraculous winel" he added, smacking his lips with 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETING-HALL. 173 

extraordinary satisfaction after a deep draught ; " those worthy 
fathers were excellent judges. I have a great reverence for them. 
But where can Alizon be all this while ? Supper is wellnigh over, 
and the dancing and pastimes will commence anon, and yet she 
comes not." 

" She is here," cried Richard. 

And as he spoke Mistress Nutter and Alizon entered the hah 1 . 

Richard endeavoured to read in the young girl's countenance 
some intimation of what had passed between her and Mistress 
Nutter, but he only remarked that she was paler than before, and 
had traces of anxiety about her. Mistress Nutter also looked 
gloomy and thoughtful, and there was nothing in the manner or 
deportment of either to lead to the conclusion, that a discovery of 
relationship between them had taken place. As Alizon moved on, 
her eyes met those of Richard but the look was intercepted by 
Mistress Nutter, who instantly called off her daughter's attention 
to herself; and, while the young man hesitated to join them, his 
sister came quickly up to him, and drew him away in another 
direction. Left to himself, Nicholas tossed off another cup of the 
miraculous Rhenish, which improved in flavour as he discussed it, 
and then, placing a chair opposite the portrait of Isole de Heton, 
filled a bumper, and, uttering the name of the fair votaress, drained 
it to her. This time he was quite certain he received a significant 
glance in return, and no one being near to contradict him, he went 
on indulging the idea of an amorous understanding between him 
self and the picture, till he had finished the bottle, and obtained 
as many ogles as he swallowed draughts of wine, upon which he 
arose and staggered off in search of Dame Tetlow. 

Meanwhile, Mistress Nutter having made her excuses to Lady 
Assheton for not attending the supper, walked down the hall with 
her daughter, until such time as the dancing and pastimes should 
commence. As will be readily supposed under the circumstances, 
this part of the entertainment was distasteful to both of them ; but 
it could not be avoided without entering into explanations, which 
Mistress Nutter was unwilling to make, and she, therefore,, 
counselled her daughter to act in all respects as if she were still 
Alizon Device, and in no way connected with her. 

66 I shall take an early opportunity of announcing my intention 
to adopt you," she said, u and then you can act differently. 
Meantime, keep near me as much as you can. Say little to 
Dorothy or Richard Assheton, and prepare to retire early ; for this 
noisy and riotous assemblage is not much to my taste, and I care 
not how soon I quit it." 

Alizon assented to what was said, and stole a timid glance 
towards Richard and Dorothy; but the latter, who alone perceived 
it, instantly averted her head, in such way as to make it evident 
she wished to shun her regards. Slight as it was, this circum 
stance occasioned Alizon much pain, for she could not conceive 



174 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

how she had offended her new-made friend, and it was some 
relief to encounter a party of acquaintances who had risen from 
the lower table at her approach, though they did not presume to 
address her while she was with Mistress Nutter, but waited 
respectfully at a little distance. Alizon, however, flew towards 
them. 

" Ah, Susan ! ah, Nancy !" she cried taking the hand of each 
"how glad I am to see you here; and you too, Lawrence 
Blackrod and you, Phil Rawson and you, also, good Master 
Harrop. How happy you all look ! " 

" An wi' good reason, sweet Alizon," replied Blackrod. " Boh 
we began to be afeerd we'd lost ye, an that wad ha' bin a sore 
mishap to lose our May Queen an th' prottiest May Queen os 
ever dawnced i' this ha', or i' onny other ha' i' Lonkyshiar." 

" We ha drunk your health, sweet Alizon," added Phil " an 
wishin' ye may be os happy os ye desarve, wi' the inon o' your 
heart, if onny sich lucky chap there be." 

" Thank you thank you both," replied Alizon, blushing ; " and 
in return I cannot wish you better fortune, Philip, than to be 
united to the good girl near you, for I know her kindly disposition 
so well, that I am sure she will make you happy." 

" Ey'rn satisfied on't myself, replied Rawson ; " an ey hope ere 
long she'll be missus o' a little cot i' Bowland Forest, an that yo'll 
pay us a visit, Alizon, an see an judge fo' yourself how happy we 
be. Nance win make a rare forester's wife." 

" Not a bit better than my Sukey," cried Lawrence Blackrod. 
" Ye shanna get th' start o' me, Phil, fo' by th' mess ! the very 
same day os sees yo wedded to Nancy Holt shan find me united to 
Sukey Worseley. An so Alizon win ha' two cottages i' Bowland 
Forest to visit i' stead o' one." 

" And well pleased I shall be to visit them both," she rejoined, 
At this moment Mistress Nutter came up. 

" My good friends,'' she said, " as you appear to take so much 
interest in Alizon, you may be glad to learn that it is my intention 
to adopt her as a daughter, having no child of my own ; and, 
though her position henceforth will be very different from what it 
has been, I am sure she will never forget her old friends." 

" Never, indeed, never I " cried Alizon, earnestly. 

" This is good news, indeed," cried Sampson Harrop, joyfully, 
while the others joined in his exclamation. " We all rejoice in 
Alizon's good fortune, and think she richly deserves it. For my 
own part, I was always sure she would have rare luck, but I did 
not expect such luck as this." 

" What's to become o' me?" cried Jennet, coming from 
behind a chair, where she had hitherto concealed herself. 

" I will always take care of you," replied Alizon, stooping, and 
kissing her. 

" Do not promise more than you may be able to perform, Alizon," 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETING-HALL. 175 

observed Mistress Nutter, coldly, and regarding the little girl 
with a look of disgust ; " an ill-favour' d little creature, with the 
Dem dike eyes." 

rt And as ill-tempered as she is ill-favoured," rejoined Sampson 
Harrop ; " and, though she cannot help being ugly, she might help 
being malicious." 

Jennet gave him a bitter look. 

" You do her injustice, Master Harrop," said Alizon. te Poor 
little Jennet is quick-tempered, but not malevolent." 

te Ey con hate weel if ey conna love," replied Jennet, " an con 
recollect injuries if ey forget kindnesses. Boh dunna trouble 
yourself about me, sister. Ey dunna envy ye your luck. Ey 
dunna want to be adopted by a grand-dame. Ey'm content os 
ey am. Boh are na ye gettin' on rayther too fast, lass ? Mother's 
consent has to be axed, ey suppose, efore ye leave her." 

" There is little fear of her refusal," observed Mistress Nutter. 

" Ey dunna knoa that," rejoined Jennet. " If she were to 
refuse, it wadna surprise me." 

ft Nothing spiteful she could do would surprise me," remarked 
Harrop. " But how are you likely to know what your mother 
will think and do, you forward little hussy ?" 

" Ey judge fro circumstances," replied the little girl. " Mother 
has often said she conna weel spare Alizon. An mayhap Mistress 
Nutter may knoa, that she con be very obstinate when she tays a 
whim into her head." 

" 1 do know it," replied Mistress Nutter ; " and, from my expe 
rience of her temper in former days, I should be loath to have you 
near me, who seem to inherit her obstinacy." 

" Wi' sich misgivings ey wonder ye wish to tak Alizon, 
madam," said Jennet ; " fo she's os much o* her mother about 
her os me, onny she dunna choose to show it." 

" Peace, thou mischievous urchin," cried Mistress Nutter, 
losing all patience. 

" Shall I take her away?" said Harrop seizing her hand. 

" Ay, do," said Mistress Nutter. 

" No, no, let her stay !" cried Alizon, quickly; u I shall be 
miserable if she goes." 

" Oh, ey'm quite ready to go," said Jennet, te fo ey care little 
fo sich seets os this boh efore ey leave ey wad fain say a few 
words to Mester Potts, whom ey see yonder." 

" What can you want with him, Jennet," cried Alizon, in 
surprise. 

" Onny to tell him what brother Jem is gone to Pendle fo to- 
neet," replied the little girl, with a significant and malicious look 
at Mistress Nutter. 

" Ha I" muttered the lady. " There is more malice in this little 
wasp than I thought. But I must rob it of its sting." 

And while thus communing with herself, she fixed a searching 



176 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

look on Jennet, and then raising her hand quickly, waved it in br 
face. 

" Oh !" cried the little girl, falling suddenly backwards. 

" What's the matter ? " demanded Alizon, flying to her. 

" Ey dunna reetly knoa," replied Jennet. 

" She's seized with a sudden faintness," said Harrop. e( Better 
she should go home then at once. I'll find somebody to take her *' 

" Neaw, neaw, e/n sit down here," said Jennet ; rt ey shan be 
better soon." 

" Come along, Alizon," said Mistress Nutter, apparently 
unconcerned at the circumstance. 

Having confided the little girl, who was now recovered from 
the shock, to the care of Nancy Holt, Alizon followed her mother. 

At this moment Sir Ralph, who had quitted the supper-table, 
clapped his hands loudly, thus giving the signal to the minstrels, 
who, having repaired to the gallery, now struck up a merry tune, 
and instantly the whole hall was in motion. Snatching up his 
wand Sampson Harrop hurried after Alizon, beseeching her to 
return with him, and join a procession about to be formed by the 
revellers, and of course, as May Queen, and the most important 
personage in it, she could not refuse. Very short space sufficed 
the rnorris-dancers to find their partners ; Robin Hood and the 
foresters got into their places ; the hobby-horse curveted and 
capered ; Friar Tuck resumed his drolleries ; and even Jack Roby 
was so far recovered as to be able to get on his legs, though he 
could not walk very steadily. Marshalled by the gentleman- 
usher, and headed by Robin Hood and the May Queen, the 
procession marched round the hall, the minstrels playing merrily 
the while, and then drew up before the upper table, where a brief 
oration was pronounced by Sir Ralph. A shout that made the 
rafters ring again followed the address, after which a couranto was 
called for by the host, who, taking Mistress Nicholas Assheton by 
the hand, led her into the body of the hall, whither he was speedily 
followed by the other guests, who had found partners in like manner. 

Before relating how the ball was opened a word must be be 
stowed upon Mistress Nicholas Assheton, whom I have neglected 
nearly as much as she was neglected by her unworthy spouse, and 
I therefore hasten to repair the injustice by declaring that she was 
a very amiable and very charming woman, and danced delightfully. 
And recoUect, ladies, these were dancing days I mean days 
when knowledge of figures as well as skill was required, more than 
twenty forgotten dances being in vogue, the very names of which 
may surprise you as I recapitulate them. There was the Passa- 
mezzo, a great favourite with Queen Elizabeth, who used to foot, 
it merrily, when, as you are told by Gray 
" The great Lord-keeper led the brawls, 



And seals and maces danced before him ! " 
the grave Pavane, likewise a favourite with the Virgin Q 



ueen, and 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETING-HALL. 177 

which I should like to see supersede the eternal polka at Almack's 
and elsewhere, and in which 

'* Five was the number of the music's feet 
Which still the dance did with five paces meet ; " 

the Couranto, with its " current traverses," " sliding passages," 
and solemn tune, wherein, according to Sir John Davies 

" that dancer greatest praise hath won 
Who with best order can all order shun ; " 

the Lavolta, also delineated by the same knowing hand 

** Where arm in arm two dancers are entwined, 
And whirl themselves with strict embracements bound, 
And still their feet an anapest do sound." 

Is not this very much like a waltz ? Yes, ladies, you have been 
dancing the lavolta of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries 
without being aware of it. But there was another waltz still older, 
called the Sauteuse, which I suspect answered to your favourite 
polka. Then there were brawls, galliards, paspys, sarabands, 
country-dances of various figures, cushion dances (another dance 
I long to see revived), kissing dances, and rounds, any of which 
are better than the objectionable polka. Thus you will see that 
there was infinite variety at least at the period under consideration, 
and that you have rather retrograded than advanced in the salta 
tory art. But to return to the ball. 

Mistress Nicholas Assheton, I have said, excelled in the graceful 
accomplishment of dancing, and that was probably the reason why 
she had been selected for the couranto by Sir Ralph, who knew 
the value of a good partner. By many persons she was accounted 
the handsomest woman in the room, and in dignity of carriage 
she was certainly unrivalled. This was precisely what Sir Ralph 
required, and having executed a few " current traverses and sliding 
passages" with her, with a gravity and stateliness worthy of Sir 
Christopher Hatton himself, when graced by the hand of his 
sovereign mistress, he conducted her, amid the hushed admiration 
of the beholders, to a seat. Still the dance continued with 
unabated spirit ; all those engaged in it running up and down, or 
" turning and winding with unlooked-for change." Alizon's hand 
had been claimed by Richard Assheton, and next to the stately 
host and his dignified partner, they came in for the largest share 
of admiration and attention ; and if the untutored girl fell short 
of the accomplished dame in precision and skill, she made up for 
the want of them in natural grace and freedom of movement, for 
the display of which the couranto, with its frequent and impromptu 
changes, afforded ample opportunity. Even Sir Ralph was struck 
with her extreme gracefulness, and pointed her out to Mistress 
Nicholas, who, unen vying and amiable, joined heartily in his 
praises. Overhearing what was said, Mrs. Nutter thought it a 
fitting opportunity to announce her intention of adopting the 
young girl ; and though Sir Ralph seemed a good deal surprised 



178 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

at the suddenness of the declaration, he raised no objection to the 
plan ; but, on the contrary, applauded it. But another person, by 
no means disposed to regard it in an equally favourable light, 
became acquainted with the intelligence at the same time. This 
was Master Potts, who instantly set his wits at work to discover 
its import. Ever on the alert, his little eyes, sharp as needles, 
had detected Jennet amongst the rustic company, and he now 
made his way towards her, resolved, by dint of cross-questioning 
and otherwise, to extract all the information he possibly <jould 
from her. 

The dance over, Richard and his partner wandered towards a 
more retired part of the hall. 

" Why does your sister shun me ? " inquired Alizon, with a look 
of great distress. " What can I have done to offend her ? 
Whenever I regard her she averts her head, and as I approached 
her just now, she moved away, making it evident she designed to 
avoid me. If I could think myself in any way different from what 
I was this morning, when she treated me with such unbounded 
confidence and kindness, or accuse myself of any offence towards 
her, even in thought, I could understand it ; but as it is, her 
present coldness appears inexplicable and unreasonable, and gives 
me great pain. I would not forfeit her regard for worlds, and 
therefore beseech you to tell me what I have done amiss, that I 
may endeavour to repair it." 

" You have done nothing nothing whatever, sweet girl," re 
plied Richard. " It is only caprice on Dorothy's part, and except 
that it distresses you, her conduct, which you justly call ' unreason 
able,' does not deserve a moment's serious consideration." 

" Oh no ! you cannot deceive me thus," cried Alizon. fe She 
is too kind too well-judging, to be capricious. Something must 
have occurred to make her change her opinion of me, though what 
it is I cannot conjecture. I have gained much to-daymore than 
I had any right to expect ; but if I have forfeited the good opinion 
of your sister, the loss of her friendship will counterbalance all 
the rest." 

" But you have not lost it, Alizon," replied Richard, earnestly. 
" Dorothy has got some strange notions into her head, which 
only require to be combated. She does not like Mistress Nutter, 
and is piqued and displeased by the extraordinary interest which 
that lady displays towards you. That is all." 

"But why should she not like Mistress Nutter?" inquired 
Alizon. 

" Nay, there is no accounting for fancies," returned Richard, 
with a faint smile. u I do not attempt to defend her, but simply 
offer the only excuse in my power for her conduct." 

" I am concerned to hear it," said Alizon, sadly, u because hence 
forth I shall be so intimately connected with Mistress Nutter, that 
this estrangement, which I hoped arose only from some trivial causej 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETING-HALL. 179 

and merely required a little explanation to be set aside, may be 
come widened and lasting. Owing every thing to Mistress Nutter, 
I must espouse her cause; and if your sister likes her not, she likes 
me not in consequence, and therefore we must continue divided. 
But surely her dislike is of very recent date, and cannot have any 
strong hold upon her ; for when she and Mistress Nutter met this 
morning, a very different feeling seemed to animate her." 

u So, indeed, it did," replied Richard, visibly embarrassed and 
distressed. " And since you have made me acquainted with the 
new tie and interests you have formed, I can only regret alluding 
to the circumstance." 

" That you may not misunderstand me," said Alizon, " I will 
explain the extent of my obligations to Mistress Nutter, and then 
you will perceive how much I am bounden to her. Childless her 
self, greatly interested in me, and feeling for my unfortunate 
situation, with infinite goodness of heart she has declared her in 
tention of removing me from all chance of baneful influence, from 
the family with whom I have been heretofore connected, by adopt 
ing me as her daughter." 

et I should indeed rejoice at this," said Richard, " were it not 
that" 

And he stopped, gazing anxiously at her. 

61 Were not what ? " cried Alizon, alarmed by his looks. " What 
do you mean?" 

" Do not press me further," he rejoined; " I cannot answer you. 
Indeed I have said too much already." 

" You have said too much or too little," cried Alizon. " Speak, 
I implore you. What mean these dark hints which you throw 
out, and which like shadows elude all attempts to grasp them ! 
Do not keep me in this state of suspense and agitation. Your 
looks speak more than your words. Oh, give your thoughts ut 
terance ! " 

" I cannot," replied Richard. st I do not believe what I have 
heard, and therefore will not repeat it. It would only increase 
the mischief. But oh ! tell me this ! Was it, indeed, to remove 
you from the baneful influence of Elizabeth Device that Mistress 
Nutter adopted you ? " 

" Other motives may have swayed her, and I have said they did 
so," replied Alizon ; " but that wish, no doubt, had great weight 
with her. Nay, notwithstanding her abhorrence of the family, she 
has kindly consented to use her best endeavours to preserve little 
Jennet from further ill, as well as to reclaim poor misguided Eliza 
beth herself." 

" Oh ! what a weight you have taken from my heart," cried 
Richard, joyfully. " I will tell Dorothy what you say, and it will 
at once remove all her doubts and suspicions. She will now be 
the same to you as ever, and to Mistress Nutter." 

u I will not ask you what those doubts and suspicions were, 



180 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

since you so confidently promise me this, which is all I desire," 
replied Alizon, smiling; " but any unfavourable opinions entertain 
ed of Mistress Nutter are wholly undeserved. Poor lady ! she 
has endured many severe trials and sufferings, and whenever you 
learn the whole of her history, she will, I am sure, have your sin 
cere sympathy." 

u You have certainly produced a complete revolution in my 
feelings towards her," said Richard, (( and I shall not be easy till 
I have made a like convert of Dorothy." 

At this moment a loud clapping of hands was heard, and Nicho 
las was seen marching towards the centre of the hall, preceded by 
the minstrels, who had descended for the purpose from the gallery, 
and bearing in his arms a large red velvet cushion. As soon as 
the dancers had formed a wide circle round him, a very lively tune 
called tf Joan Sanderson," from which the dance about to be exe 
cuted sometimes received its name, was struck up, and the squire, 
after a few preliminary flourishes, set down the cushion, and gave 
chase to Dame Tetlow, who, threading her way rapidly through 
the ring, contrived to elude him. This chase, accompanied by 
music, excited shouts of laughter on all hands, and no one knew 
which most to admire, the eagerness of the squire, or the dexterity 
of the lissom dame in avoiding him. 

Exhausted at length, and baffled in his quest, Nicholas came 
to a halt before Tom the Piper, and, taking up the cushion, thus 
preferred his complaint : " This dance it can no further go no 
further go." 

Whereupon the piper chanted in reply, " I pray you, good 
sir, why say you so why say you so *? " 

Amidst general laughter, the squire tenderly and touchingly 
responded " Because Dame Tetlow will not come to will not 
come to." 

Whereupon Tom the Piper, waxing furious, blew a shrill whistle, 
accompanied by an encouraging rattle of the tambarine, and en 
forcing the mandate by two or three energetic stamps on the floor, 
delivered himself in this fashion : " She must come to, and she 
SHALL come to. And she must come, whether she will or no." 

Upon this two of the prettiest female morris-dancers, taking 
each a hand of the blushing and overheated Dame Tetlow, for she 
had found the chase rather warm work, led her forward ; while the 
squire advancing very gallantly placed the cushion upon the ground 
before her, and as she knelt down upon it, bestowed a smacking 
kiss upon her lips. This ceremony being performed amidst much 
tittering and flustering, accompanied by many knowing looks and 
some expressed wishes among the swains, who hoped that their 
turn might come next, Dame Tetlow arose, and the squire seizing 
her hand, they began to whisk round in a sort of jig, singing mer 
rily as they danced 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETING-IlALL. 181 

" Prinkum prankum is a fine dance, 
And we shall go dance it once again ! 
Once again, 
And we shall go dance it once again ! " 

And they made good the words too; for on coming to a stop, 
Dame Tetlow snatched up the cushion, and ran in search of the 
squire, who retreating among the surrounding damsels, made sad 
havoc among them, scarcely leaving a pretty pair of lips unvisited. 
Oh Nicholas ! Nicholas ! I am thoroughly ashamed of you, and 
regret becoming your historian. You get me into an infinitude 
of scrapes. But there is a rod in pickle for you, sir, which shall 
be used with good effect presently. Tired of such an unprofitable 
quest, Dame Tetlow came to a sudden halt, addressed the piper 
as Nicholas had addressed him, and receiving a like answer, sum 
moned the delinquent to come forward; but as he knelt down on 
the cushion, instead of receiving the anticipated salute, he got a 
sound box on the ears, the dame, actuated probably by some feel 
ing of jealousy, taking advantage of the favourable opportunity af 
forded her of avenging herself. No one could refrain from laughing 
at this unexpected turn in affairs, and Nicholas, to do him justice, 
took it in excellent part, and laughed louder than the rest. Springing 
to his feet, he snatched the kiss denied him by the spirited dame, 
and led her to obtain some refreshment at the lower table, of 
which they both stood in need, while the cushion being appropri 
ated by other couples, other boxes on the ear and kisses were in 
terchanged, leading to an infinitude of merriment. 

Long before this Master Potts had found his way to Jennet, 
and as he drew near, affecting to notice her for the first time, he 
made some remarks upon her not looking very well. 

" 'Deed, an ey'm nah varry weel," replied the little girl, " boh 
ey knoa who ey han to thonk fo' my ailment." 

" Your sister, most probably," suggested the attorney. te It 
must be very vexatious to see her so much noticed, and be your 
self so much neglected very vexatious, indeed I quite feel for 
you." 

" Ey dunna want your feelin'," replied Jennet, nettled by the 
remark ; " boh it wasna my sister os made me ill." 

" Who was it then, my little dear," said Potts. 

rt Dunna ' dear' me," retorted Jennet ; " yo're too ceevil by half, 
os the lamb said to the wolf. Boh sin ye mun knoa, it wur Mis 
tress Nutter." 

" Aha ! very good I mean very bad," cried Potts. <( What 
did Mistress Nutter do to you, my little dear ? Don't be afraid 
of telling me. If I can do any thing for you I shall be very happy. 
Speak out and don't be afraid." 

" Nay fo' shure, ey'm nah afeerd," returned Jennet. " Boh 
whot mays ye so inqueesitive ? Ye want to get summat out'n 
me, ey con see that plain enough, an os ye stand there glenting 



182 THl* LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

at me wi' your sly little een, ye look loike an owd fox ready to snap 
up a chicken o' th* furst opportunity." 

66 Your comparison is not very flattering, Jennet," replied Potts; 
rt but I pass it by for the sake of its cleverness. You are a sharp 
child, Jennet a very sharp child. I remarked that from the first 
moment I saw you. But in regard to Mistress Nutter, she seems 
a very nice lady and must be a very kind lady, since she has 
made up her mind to adopt your sister. Not that I am sur 
prised at her determination, for really Alizon is so superior-^-so 
unlike--" 

u Me, ye wad say," interrupted Jennet. " Dunna be efeerd 
to speak out, sir." 

" No, no," replied Potts, " on the contrary, there's a very 
great likeness between you. I saw you were sisters at once. 
I don't know which is the cleverest or prettiest but perhaps you 
are the sharpest. Yes, you are the sharpest, undoubtedly, 
Jennet. If I wished to adopt any one, which unfortunately I'm 
not in a condition to do, having only bachelor's chambers in 
Chancery Lane, it should be you. But I can put you in a way 
of making your fortune, Jennet, and that's the next best thing to 
adopting you. Indeed, it's much better in my case." 

" May my fortune !" cried the little girl, pricking up her ears, 
" ey should loike to knoa how ye wad contrive that." 

" I'll show you how directly, Jennet," returned Potts. " Pay 
particular attention to what I say, and think it over carefully, 
when you are by yourself. You are quite aware that there is a 
great talk about witches in these parts; and, I may speak it 
without offence to you, your own family come under the charge. 
There is your grandmother Demdike, for instance, a notorious 
witch your mother, Dame Device, suspected your brother 
James suspected." 

" Weel, sir," cried Jennet, eyeing him sharply, " what does 
all this suspicion tend to ?" 

sc You shall hear, my little dear," returned Potts. u It would 
not surprise me, if every one of your family, including yourself, 
should be arrested, shut up in Lancaster Castle, and burnt for 
witches !" 

" Alack a day ! an this ye ca' makin my fortin," cried Jennet, 
derisively. " Much obleeged to ye, sir, boh ey'd leefer be with 
out the luck." 

" Listen to me," pursued Potts, chuckling, " and I will point 
out to you a way of escaping the general fate of your family 
not merely of escaping it but of acquiring a large reward. 
And that is by giving evidence against them by telling all you 
know you understand eh !" 

" Yeigh, ey think ey do onderstond," replied Jennet, sullenly. 
" An so this is your grand scheme, eh, sir?" 

"This is my scheme, Jennet," said Potts, "and a notable 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETIXG-HALL. 183 

scheme it is, my little lass. Think it over. You're an admissible 
and indeed a desirable witness; for our sagacious sovereign has 
expressly observed that ' bairns,' (I believe you call children 
* bairns' in Lancashire, Jennet; your uncouth dialect very much 
resembles the Scottish language, in which our learned monarch 
writes as well as speaks) ' bairns,' says he, * or wives, or never 
so defamed persons, may of our law serve for sufficient witnesses 
and proofs ; for who but witches can be proofs, and so witnesses 
of the doings of witches/ " 

"Boh, ey am neaw witch, ey tell ye, mon/' cried Jennet, 
angrily. 

" But you're a witch's bairn, my little lassy," replied Potts, 
tf and that's just as bad, and you'll grow up to be a witch in due 
time that is, if your career be not cut short. I'm sure you must 
have witnessed some strange things when you visited your grand 
mother at Malkin Tower that, if I mistake not, is the name of 
her abode ? and a fearful and witch-like name it is ; you must 
have heard frequent mutterings and curses, spells, charms, ard 
diabolical incantations beheld strange and monstrous visions 
listened to threats uttered against people who have afterwards 
perished unaccountably." 

" Ey've heerd an seen nowt o't sort," replied Jennet ; " boh 
ey' han heerd my mother threaten yo." 

" Ah, indeed," cried Potts, forcing a laugh, but looking rather 
blank afterwards ; " and how did she threaten me, Jennet, eh ? 
But no matter. Let that pass for the moment. As I was saying, 
you must have seen mysterious proceedings both at Malkin Tower 
and your own house. A black gentleman with a club foot must 
visit you occasionally, and your mother must, now and then say 
once a week take a fancy to riding on a broomstick. Are you 
quite sure you have never ridden on one yourself, Jennet, and 
got whisked up the chimney without being aware of it ? It's the 
common witch conveyance, and said to be very expeditious and 
agreeable but I can't vouch for it myself ha ! ha ! Possibly 
though you are rather young but possibly, I say, you may have 
attended a witch's Sabbath, and seen a huge He-Goat, with four 
horns on his head, and a large tail, seated in the midst of a large 
circle of devoted admirers. If you have seen this, and can recol 
lect the names and faces of the assembly, it would be highly 
important." 

" When ey see it, ey shanna forget it," replied Jennet. " Boh 
ey am nah quite so fajailiar wi' Owd Scrat os yo seem to 
suppose." 

" Has it ever occurred to you that Alizon might be addicted 
to these practices ? " pursued Potts, " and that she obtained her 
extraordinary arid otherwise unaccountable beauty by some ma 
gical process some charm some diabolical unguent prepared, 
as the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seals, the singularly learned 



184 THE LANCASHIKE WITCHES. 

Lord Bacon, declares, from fat of unbaptised babes, compounded 
with henbane, hemlock, mandrake, moonshade, and other terrible 
ingredients. She could not be so beautiful without some 
such aid." 

" That shows how little yo knoaw about it," replied Jennet. 
" Alizon is os good as she's protty, and dunna yo think to wheedle 
me into sayin' out agen her, fo' yo winna do it. E/d dee rayther 
than harm a hure o' her heaod." 

" Very praiseworthy, indeed, my little dear," replied Eotts, 
ironically. i( I honour you for your sisterly affection ; but, not 
withstanding all this, I cannot help thinking she has bewitched 
Mistress Nutter." 

66 Licker, Mistress Nutter has bewitched her," replied Jennet. 

" Then you think Mistress Nutter is a witch, eh ?" cried Potts, 
eagerly. 

" Ey'st neaw tell ye what ey think, mon," rejoined Jennet, 
doggedly. 

" But hear me," cried Potts, " I have my own suspicions, also, 
nay, more than suspicions." 

u If ye're shure, yo dunna want me," said Jennet. 

rt But I want a witness," pursued Potts, ts and if you'll serve 
as one " 

" Whot'll ye gi' me ?" said Jennet. 

" Whatever you like," rejoined Potts. rt Only name the sum. 
So you can prove the practice of witchcraft against Mistress 
Nutter-eh?" 

Jennet nodded. " Wa\l ye loike to knoa why brother Jem is 
gone to Pendle to-neet ?" she said. 

" Very much, indeed," replied Potts, drawing still nearer to 
her. "Very much, indeed." 

The little girl was about to speak, but on a sudden a sharp 
convulsion agitated her frame ; her utterance totally failed her ; 
and she fell back in the seat insensible. 

Very much startled, Potts flew in search of some restorative, 
and on doing so, he perceived Mistress Nutter moving away from 
this part of the hall. 

" She has done it," he cried. " A piece of witchcraft before 
my very eyes. Has she killed the child ? No ; she breathes, and 
ner pulse beats, though faintly. She is only in a swoon, but a 
deep and deathlike one. It would be useless to attempt to revive 
her ; she must come to in her own way, or at the pleasure of 
the wicked woman who has thrown her into this condition. I 
have now an assured witness in this girl. But I must keep watch 
upon Mistress Nutter's further movements." 

And he walked cautiously after her. 

As Richard had anticipated, his explanation was perfectly 
satisfactory to Dorothy ; and the young lady, who had suffered 
greatly from the restraint she had imposed upon herself, flew to 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETISG-HALL. 185 

Alizon, and poured forth excuses, which were as readily accepted 
as they were freely made. They were instantly as great friends 
as before, and their brief estrangement only seemed to make 
them dearer to each other. Dorothy could not forgive herself, 
and Alizon assured her there was nothing to be forgiven, and so 
they took hands upon it, and promised to forget ail that had 
passed. Richard stood by, delighted with the change, and 
wrapped in the contemplation of the object of his love, who, thus 
engaged, seemed to him more beautiful than he had ever beheld 
her. 

Towards the close of the evening, while all three were still to 
gether, Nicholas came up and took Richard aside. The squire 
looked flushed ; and there was an undefined expression of alarm 
in his countenance. 

" What is the matter?" inquired Richard, dreading to hear of 
some new calamity* 

" Have you not noticed it, Dick ? " said Nicholas, in a hollow 
tone. " The portrait is gone/' 

C( What portrait ? " exclaimed Richard, forgetting the previous 
circumstances. 

a The portrait of Isole de Heton," returned Nicholas, becoming 
more sepulchral in his accents as he proceeded ; 6i it has vanished 
from the wall. See and believe." 

" Who has taken it down?" cried Richard, remarking that the 
picture had certainly disappeared. 

" No mortal hand," replied Nicholas. " It has come down of 
itself. I knew what would happen, Dick. I told you the fair 
votaress gave me the din d'ceil the wink. You would not believe 
me then and now you see your mistake." 

" I see nothing but the bare wall," said Richard. 

" But you will see something anon, Dick," rejoined Nicholas, 
with a hollow laugh, and in a dismally deep tone. i( You will see 
Isole herself. I was foolhardy enough to invite her to dance the 
brawl with me. She smiled her assent, and winked at me thus 
very significantly, I protest to you and she will be as good as 
her word." 

" Absurd !" exclaimed Richard. 

" Absurd, sayest thou thou art an infidel, and belie vest 
nothing, Dick," cried Nicholas. " Dost thou not see that the 
picture is gone ? She will be here presently. Ha ! the brawl is 
called for the very dance I invited her to. She must be ir the 
room now. I will go in search of her. Look out, Dick. Thou 
wilt behold a sight presently shall make thine hair stand on 
end." 

And he moved away with a rapid but uncertain step. 

u The potent wine has confused his brain," said Richard. " I 
must see that no mischance befklls him." 

And, waving his hand to his sister, he followed the squire, who 



186 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

moved on, staring inquisitively into the countenance of every 
pretty damsel he encountered. 

Time had flown fleetly with Dorothy and Alijcon, who, occupied 
with each other, had taken little note of its progress, and were 
surprised to find how quickly the hours had gone by. Mean 
while several dances had been performed ; a Morisco, in which all 
the May- day revellers took part, with the exception of the queen 
herself, who, notwithstanding the united entreaties of Robin Hood 
and her gentleman-usher, could not be prevailed upon to join it : 
a trenchmore, a sort of long country-dance, extending from top to 
bottom of the hall, and in which the whole of the rustics stood 
up : a galliard, confined to the more important guests, and in 
which both Alizon arid Dorothy were included, the former dancing, 
of course, with Richard, and the latter with one of her cousins, 
young Joseph Robinson : and a jig, quite promiscuous and unex- 
clusive, and not the less merry on that account. In this wav> 
what with the dances, which were of some duration the trench- 
more alone occupying more than an hour and the necessary 
breathing-time between them, it was on the stroke of ten without 
any body being aware of it. Now this, though a very early hour 
for a modern party, being about the time when the first guest 
would arrive, was a very late one even in fashionable assemblages 
at the period in question, and the guests began to think of retir 
ing, when the brawl, intended to wind up the entertainment, was 
called. The highest animation still prevailed throughout the 
company, for the generous host had taken care that the intervals 
between the dances should be well filled up with refreshments, 
and large bowls of spiced wines, with burnt oranges and crabs 
floating in them, were placed on the 'side-table, and liberally 
dispensed to all applicants. Thus all seemed destined to be 
brought to a happy conclusion. 

Throughout the evening Alizon had been closely watched by 
Mistress Nutter, who remarked, with feelings akin to jealousy and 
distrust, the marked predilection exhibited by her for Richard 
and Dorothy Assheton, as well as her inattention to her own 
expressed injunctions in remaining constantly near them. Though 
secretly displeased by this, she put a calm face upon it, and neither 
remonstrated by word or look. Thus Alizon, feeling encouraged 
in tiie course she had adopted, and prompted by her inclinations, 
soon forgot the interdiction she had received. Mistress Nutter 
even went so far in her duplicity as to promise Dorothy, that 
Alizon should pay her an early visit at Middleton though 
inwardly resolving no such visit should ever take place. How- 
evei, she now received the proposal very graciously, and made 
Alizon quite happy in acceding to it. 

" I would fain have her go back with me to Middleton when I 
return," said Dorothy, " but I fear you would not like to part 
with your newly-adopted daughter so soon ; neither would it be 



THE TWO PORTRAITS IN THE BANQUETINO-HALL. 187 

quite fair to rob you of her. But I shall hold you to your pro 
mise of an early visit." 

Mistress Nutter replied by a bland smile, and then observed to 
Alizon that it was time for them to retire, and that she had 
stayed on her account far later than she intended a mark of 
consideration duly appreciated by Alizon. Farewells for the 
night were then exchanged between the two girls, and Alizon 
looked round to bid adieu to Richard, but unfortunately, at this 
very juncture, he was engaged in pursuit of Nicholas. Before 
quitting the hall she made inquiries after Jennet, and receiving 
for answer that she was still in the hall, but had fallen asleep in a 
chair at one corner of the side-table, and could not be wakened, 
she instantly flew thither and tried to rouse her, but in vain ; when 
Mistress Nutter, coming up the next moment, merely touched her 
brow, and the little girl opened her eyes and gazed about her with 
a bewildered look." 

" She is unused to these late hours, poor child," said Alizon. 
" Some one must be found to take her home." 

" You need not go far in search of a convoy," said Potts, who 
had been hovering about, and now stepped up ; '* I am going to 
the Dragon myself, and shall be happy to take charge of her." 

" You are over-officious, sir," rejoined Mistress Nutter, coldly ; 
" when we need your assistance we will ask it. My own servant, 
Simon Blackadder, will see her safely home." 

And at a sign from her, a tall fellow with a dark, scowling coun 
tenance, came from among the other serving-men, and, receiving 
his instructions from his mistress, seized Jennet's hand, and 
strode off with her. During all this time, Mistress Nutter kept 
her eyes steadily fixed on the little girl, who spoke not a word, 
nor replied even by a gesture to Alizon's affectionate good-night, 
retaining her dazed look to the moment of quitting the hall. 

" I never saw her thus before," said Alizon. " What can be 
the matter with her?" 

6f I think I could tell you," rejoined Potts, glancing maliciously 
and significantly at Mistress Nutter. 

The lady darted an ireful and piercing look at him, which 
seemed to produce much the same consequences as those expe 
rienced by Jennet, for his visage instantly elongated, and he sank 
back in a chair. 

"Oh dear!" he cried, putting his hand to his head; " I'm 
struck all of a heap. I feel a sudden qualm a giddiness & sort 
of don't-know-howishness. Ho, there ! some aquavita> or impe 
rial water or cinnamon water or whatever reviving cordial may 
be at hand. I feel very ill very ill, indeed oh dear!" 

While his requirements were attended to, Mistress Nutter 
moved away with her daughter; but they had not pioceeded far 
when they encountered Richard, who, having fortunately descried 
them, came up to say good-night. 



188 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

The brawl, meanwhile, had commenced, and the dancers were 
whirling round giddily in every direction, somewhat like the 
couples in a grand polka, danced after a very boisterous, romping, 
and extravagant fashion. 

rt Who is Nicholas dancing with 1 " asked Mistress Nutter sud 
denly. 

"Is he dancing with any one?" rejoined Richard, looking 
amidst the crowd. 

"Do you not see her?" said Mistress Nutter; "a very 'beau 
tiful woman with flashing eyes : they move so quickly, that I carl 
scarce discern her features ; but she is habited like a nun." 

"Like a nun!" cried Richard, his blood growing chill in his 
veins. " 'Tis she indeed, then ! Where is he?" 

" Yonder, yonder, whirling madly round," replied Mistress 
Nutter. 

" I see him now," said Richard, " but he is alone. He has 
lost his wits to dance in that strange manner by himself. How 
wild, too, is his gaze !" 

" I tell you he is dancing with a very beautiful woman in the 
habit of a nun," said Mistress Nutter. " Strange 1 should never 
have remarked her before. No one in the room is to be compared 
with her in loveliness not even Alizon. Her eyes seem to flash 
fire, and she bounds like the wild roe." 

" Does she resemble the portrait of Isole de Heton ? " asked 
Richard, shuddering. 

u She does she does," replied Mistress Nutter. " See ! she 
whirls past us now." 

" I can see no one but Nicholas," cried Richard. 

" Nor I," added Alizon, who shared in the young man's alarm. 

t( Are you sure you behold that figure?" said Richard, drawing 
Mistress Nutter aside, and breathing the words in her ear. " If 
so, it is a phantom or he is in the power of the fiend He was 
rash enough to invite that wicked votaress, Isole de Heton, 
condemned, it is said, to penal fires for her earthly enormities, to 
dance with him, and she has come." 

u Ha !" exclaimed Mistress Nutter. 

" She will whirl him round till he expires," cried Richard ; u I 
must free him a,t all hazards." 

" Stay," said Mistress Nutter ; " it is I who have been deceived. 
Now I look again, I see that Nicholas is alone." 

" But the nun's dress the wondrous beauty the flashing 
eyes ! " cried Richard. " You described Isole exactly." 

" It was mere fancy," said Mistress Nutter. " I had just been 
looking at her portrait, and it dwelt on my mind, and created the 
image." 

" The portrait is gone," cried Richard, pointing to the empty 
wall. 

Mistress Nutter looked confounded. 



THE NOCTURNAL MEETING. 189 

And without a word more, she took Alizon, who was full of 
alarm and astonishment, by the arm, and hurried her out of the 
hall. 

As they disappeared, the young man flew towards Nicholas, 
whose extraordinary proceedings had excited general amazement. 
The other dancers had moved out of the way, so that free space 
was left for his mad gyrations. Greatly scandalised by the exhi 
bition, which he looked upon as the effect of intoxication, Sir 
Ralph called loudly to him to stop, but he paid no attention to 
the summons, but whirled on with momently-increasing velocity, 
oversetting old Adam Whit worth, Gregory, and Dickon, who 
severally ventured to place themselves in his path, to enforce their 
master's injunctions, until at last, just as Richard reached him, he 
uttered a loud cry, and fell to the ground insensible. By Sir 
Ralph's command he was instantly lifted up and transported to 
his own chamber. 

This unexpected and extraordinary incident put an end to the 
ball, and the whole of the guests, after taking a respectful and 
grateful leave of the host, departed not in " most admired" 
disorder, but full of wonder. By most persons the squire's 
" fantastical vagaries," as they were termed, were traced to the 
vast quantity of wine he had drunk, but a few others shook their 
heads, and said he was evidently bewitched, and that Mother 
Chattox and Nance Redferne were at the bottom of it. As to 
the portrait of Isole de Heton, it was found under the table, and 
it was said that Nicholas himself had pulled it down; but this he 
obstinately denied, when afterwards taken to task for his indeco 
rous behaviour ; and to his dying day he asserted, and believed, 
that he had danced the brawl with Isole de Heton. " And never," 
he would say, fs had mortal man such a partner." 

From that night the two portraits in the banqueting-hall were 
regarded with grea awe by the inmates of the Abbey. 



CHAPTER X. THE NOCTURNAL MEETING. 

ON gaining the head of the staircase leading to the corridor, 
Mistress Nutter, whose movements had hitherto been extremely 
rapid, paused with her daughter to listen to the sounds arising 
from below. Suddenly was heard a loud cry, and the music, 
which had waxed fast and furious in order to keep pace with the 
frenzied boundings of the squire, ceased at once, showing some 
interruption had occurred, while from the confused noise that 
ensued, it was evident the sudden stoppage had been the result 
of accident. With blanched cheek Alizon listened, scarcely 
daring to look at her mother, whose expression of countenance, 
revealed by the lamp she held in her hand, almost frightened her; 



190 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

and it was a great relief to hear the voices and laughter of the 
serving-men as they came forth with Nicholas, and bore him 
towards another part of the mansion ; and though much shocked^ 
she was glad when one of them, who appeared to be Nicholas's 
own servant, assured the others " that it was only a drunken fit, 
and that the squire would wake up next morning as if nothing 
had happened." 

Apparently satisfied with this explanation, Mistress Nutter 
moved on ; but a new feeling of uneasiness carat! over AUzon as 
she followed her down the long dusky corridor, in the direction of 
the mysterious chamber, where they were to pass the night. The 
fitful flame of the lamp fell upon many a grirn painting depicting 
the sufferings of the early martyrs ; and these ghastly representa 
tions did not serve to re-assure her. The grotesque carvings on 
the panels and ribs of the vaulted roof, likewise impressed her 
with vague terror, and there was one large piece of sculpture 
Saint Theodora subjected to diabolical temptation, as described 
in the Golden Legend that absolutely scared her. Their foot 
steps echoed hoUowly overhead, and more than once, deceived by 
the sound, Alizon turned to see if any one was behind them. At 
the end of the corridor lay the room once occupied by the superior 
of the religious establishment, and still known from that 
circumstance as the " Abbot's Chamber." Connected with this 
apartment was the beautiful oratory built by Paslew, wherein he 
had kept his last vigils ; and though now no longer applied to 
purposes of worship, still wearing from the character of its archi 
tecture, its sculptured ornaments, and the painted glass in its 
casements, a dim religious air. The abbot's room was allotted to 
Dorothy Assheton ; and from its sombre magnificence, as well as 
the ghostly tales connected with it, had impressed her with so 
much superstitious misgiving, that she besought Alizon to share 
her couch with her, but the young girl did not dare to assent. 
Just, however, as Mistress Nutter was about to enter her own 
room, Dorothy appeared on the corridor, and, calling to Alizon to 
stay a moment, flew quickly towards her, and renewed the pro 
position. Alizon looked at her mother, but the latter decidedly, 
and somewhat sternly, negatived it. 

The young girls then said good-night, kissing each other 
affectionately, after which Alizon entered the room with 
Mistress Nutter, and the door was closed. Two tapers were 
burning on the dressing-table, and their light fell upon the carved 
figures of the wardrobe, which still exercised the same weird 
influence over her. Mistress Nutter neither seemed disposed to 
retire to rest immediately, nor willing to talk, but sat down, and 
was soon lost in thought. After awhile, an impulse of curiosity 
which she could not resist, prompted Alizon to peep into the 
closet, and pushing aside the tapestry, partly drawn over the 
entrance, she held the lamp forward so as to throw its li^ht into 



THE NOCTURNAL MEETING. 191 

the little chamber. A mere glance was all she was allowed, but 
it sufficed to show her the large oak chest, though the monkish 
robe lately suspended above it, and which had particularly attracted 
her attention, was gone. Mistress Nutter had noticed the 
movement, and instantly and somewhat sharply recalled her. 

As Alizon obeyed, a slight tap was heard at the door. The 
young girl turned pale, for in her present frame of mind any 
little matter affected her. Nor were her apprehensions materially 
allayed by the entrance of Dorothy, who, looking white as a sheet 
said she did not dare to remain in her own room, having beeK 
terribly frightened, by seeing a monkish figure in mouldering 
white garments, exactly resembling one of the carved images 01 
the wardrobe, issue from behind the hangings on the wall, and 
glide into the oratory, and she entreated Mistress Nutter to let 
Alizoii go back with her. The request was peremptorily refused, 
and the lady, ridiculing Dorothy for her fears, bade her return ; 
but she still lingered. This relation filled Alizon with inexpres 
sible alarm, for though she did not dare to allude to the dis 
appearance of the monkish gown, she could not help connecting 
the circumstance with the ghostly figure seen by Dorothy. 

Unable otherwise to get rid of the terrified intruder, whose 
presence was an evident restraint to her, Mistress Nutter, at 
length, consented to accompany her to her room, and convince 
her of the folly of her fears, by an examination of the oratory. 
Alizon went with them, her mother not choosing to leave her 
behind, and indeed she herself was most anxious to go. 

The abbot's chamber was large and gloomy, nearly twice the 
size of the room occupied by Mistress Nutter, but resembling it 
in many respects, as well as in the dusky hue of its hangings and 
furniture, most of which had been undisturbed since the days of 
Paslew. The very bed, of carved oak, was that in which he had 
slept, and his arms were still displayed upon it, and on the 
painted glass of the windows. As Alizon entered she looked 
round with apprehension, but nothing occurred to justify her 
uneasiness. Having raised the arras, from behind which Dorothy 
averred the figure had issued, and discovering nothing but a panel 
of oak; with a smile of incredulity, Mistress Nutter walked 
boldly towards the oratory, the two girls, hand in hand, following 
tremblingly after her ; but no fearful object met their view. A 
dressing-table, with a large mirror upon it, occupied the spot 
where the altar had formerly stood ; but, in spite of this, and of 
other furniture, the little place of prayer, as has previously been 
observed, retained much of its original character, and seemed 
more calculated to inspire sentiments of devotional awe than any 
other. 

After remaining for a short time in the oratory, during which 
she pointed out the impossibility of any one being concealed there. 
Mistress Gutter assured Dorothy she might rest quite easy that 



192 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

nothing further would occur to alarm her, and recommending her 
to lose the sense of her fears as speedily as she could in sleep, 
took her departure with Alizon. 

But the recommendation was of little avail. The poor girl's 
heart died within her, and all her former terrors returned, and 
with additional force. Sitting down, she looked fixedly at the 
hangings till her eyes ached, and then covering her face with her 
hands, and scarcely daring to breathe, she listened intently for 
the slightest sound. A rustle would have made her scream but 
all was still as death, so profoundly quiet, that the very hush and 
silence became a new cause of disquietude, and longing for some 
cheerful sound to break it, she would have spoken aloud but from 
a fear of hearing her own voice. A book lay before her, and she 
essayed to read it, but in vain. She was ever glancing fearfully 
round ever listening intently. This state could not endure for 
ever, and feeling a drowsiness steal over her she yielded to it, 
and at length dropped asleep in her chair. Her dreams, however, 
were influenced by her mental condition, and slumber was no 
refuge, as promised by Mistress Nutter, from the hauntingg of 
terror. 

At last a jarring sound aroused her, and she found she had 
been awakened by the clock striking twelve. Her lamp required 
trimming and burnt dimly, but by its imperfect light she saw the 
arras move. This could be no fancy, for the next moment the 
hangings were raised, and a figure looked from behind them ; and 
this time it was not the monk, but a female robed in white. A 
glimpse of the figure was all Dorothy caught, for it instantly 
retreated, and the tapestry fell back to its place against the wall. 

Scared by this apparition, Dorothy rushed out of the room so 
hurriedly that she forgot to take her lamp, and made her way, 
she scarcely knew how, to the adjoining chamber. She did not 
tap at the door, but trying it, and finding it unfastened, opened it 
softly, and closed it after her, resolved if the occupants of the 
room were asleep not to disturb them, but to pass the night in a 
chair, the presence of some living beings beside her sufficing, in 
some degree, to dispel her terrors. The room was buried in 
darkness, the tapers being extinguished. 

Advancing on tiptoe she soon discovered a seat, when what 
was her surprise to find Alizon asleep within it. She was sure it 
was Alizon for she had touched her hair and face, and she felt 
surprised that the contact had not awakened her. Still more 
surprised did she feel that the young girl had not retired to rest, 
Again she stepped forward in search of another chair, when a 
gleam of light suddenly shot from one side of the bed, and the 
tapestry, masking the entrance to the closet, was slowly drawn 
aside. From behind it, the next moment, appeared the same 
female figure, robed in white, that she had previously beheld in 
the abbot's chamber. The figure held a lamp in one hand, and 




ALIZON ALARMED AT THE APPEARANCE OF MRS. NUTTER. P. 192. 



X 



THE NOCTURNAL MEETING. 193 

a small box in the other, and, to her unspeakable horror, dis 
closed the livid and contorted countenance of Mistress Nutter. 

Dreadful though undefined suspicions crossed her mind, and 
she feared, if discovered, she should be sacrificed to the fury of 
this strange and terrible woman. Luckily, where she stood, 
though Mistress Nutter was revealed to her, she herself was 
screened from view by the hangings of the bed, and looking 
around for a hiding-place, she observed that the mysterious ward 
robe, close behind her, was open, and without a moment's hesi 
tation, she slipped into the covert and drew the door to, noiselessly. 
But her curiosity overmastered her fear, and, firmly believing 
some magical rite was about to be performed, she sought for 
means of beholding it ; nor was she long in discovering a small 
eyelet-hole in the carving which commanded the room. 

Unconscious of any other presence than that of Alizon, whose 
stupor appeared to occasion her no uneasiness, Mistress Nutter, 
placed the lamp upon the table, made fast the door, and, mutter 
ing some unintelligible words, unlocked the box. It contained 
two singularly-shaped glass vessels, the one filled with a bright 
sparkling liquid, and the other with a greenish-coloured unguent. 
Pouring forth a few drops of the liquid into a glass near her, Mis 
tress Nutter swallowed them, and then taking some of the unguent 
upon her hands, proceeded to anoint her face and neck with it, 
exclaiming as she did so, "Emen hetan! Emen hetan!" words 
that fixed themselves upon the listener's memory. 

Wondering what would follow, Dorothy gazed on, when she 
suddenly lost sight of Mistress Nutter, and after looking for her 
as far as her range of vision, limited by the aperture, would ex 
tend, she became convinced that she had left the room. All remain 
ing quiet, she ventured, after awhile, to quit her hiding-place, and 
flying to Alizon, tried to waken her, but in vain. The poor girl 
retained the same moveless attitude, and appeared plunged in a 
deathly stupor. 

Much frightened, Dorothy resolved to alarm the house, but some 
fears of Mistress Nutter restrained her, and she crept towards the 
closet to see whether that dread lady could be there. All was 
perfectly still; and somewhat emboldened, she returned to the table, 
where the box, which was left open and its contents unguarded, 
attracted her attention. 

What was the liquid in the phial? What could it do ? These 
were questions she asked herself, and longing to try the effect, she 
ventured at last to pour forth a few drops and taste it. It was 
like a potent distillation, and she became instantly sensible of a 
strange bewildering excitement. Presently her brain reeled, and 
she laughed wildly. Never before had she felt so light and buoy 
ant, and wings seemed scarcely wanting to enable her to fly. An 
idea occurred to her. '1 he wondrous liquid might arouee Alizon. 
The experiment should be tried at once, and, dipping her finger 



194 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

in the phial, she touched the lips of the sleeper, who sighed deeply 
and opened her eyes. Another drop, and Alizon was on her feet, 
gazing at her in astonishment, and laughing wildly as herself. 

Poor girls ! how wild and strange they looked and how unlike 
themselves ! 

" Whither are you going?" cried Alizon. 

"To the moon ! to the stars ! any where!" rejoined Dorothy, 
with a laugh of frantic glee. 

" I will go with you," cried Alizon, echoing the laugh. 

" Here and there ! here and there !" exclaimed Dorothy, taking 
her hand. " Ernen hetan ! Emen hetan !" 

As the mystic words were uttered they started away. It seem 
ed as if no impediments could stop them ; how they crossed the 
closet, passed through a sliding panel into the abbot's room, 
entered the oratory, and from it descended, by a secret staircase, 
to the garden, they knew not but there they were, gliding swiftly 
along in the moonlight, like winged spirits. What took them to 
wards the conventual church they could not say. But they 'were 
drawn thither, as the ship was irresistibly dragged towards the 
loadstone rock described in the Eastern legend. Nothing surprised 
them then, or they might have been struck by the dense vapour, 
enveloping the monastic ruins, and shrouding them from view ; 
nor was it until they entered the desecrated fabric, that any con 
sciousness of what was passing around returned to them. 

Their ears were then assailed by a wild hubbub of discordant 
sounds, hootings and croakings as of owk and ravens, shrieks and 
jarring cries as of night-birds, bello wings as of cattle, groans and 
dismal sounds, mixed with unearthly laughter. Undefined and ex 
traordinary shapes, whether men or women, beings of this world 
or of another they could not tell, though they judged them the latter, 
flew past with wild whoops and piercing cries, flapping the air as if 
with great leathern bat-like wings, or bestriding black, monstrous, 
misshapen steeds. Fantastical and grotesque were these objects, yet 
hideous and appalling. Now and then a red and fiery star would 
whiz crackling through the air, and then exploding break into 
numerous pale phosphoric lights, that danced awhile overhead, 
and then flitted away among the ruins. The ground seemed to 
heave and tremble beneath the footsteps, as if the graves were 
opening to give forth their dead, while toads arid hissing reptiles 
crept forth, 

Appalled, yet partly restored to herself by this confused and 
iorrible din, Alizon stood still and kept fast hold of Dorothy, who, 
seemingly under a stronger influence than herself, was drawn to 
wards the eastern end of the fane, where a fire appeared to be 
blazing, a strong ruddy glare being cast upon the broken roof of 
the choir, and the mouldering arches around it. The noises around 
them suddenly ceased, and all the uproar seemed concentrated near 
the spot where the fire was burning. Dorothy besought her friend 



THE NOCTUKNAL MEETING. 195 

so earnestly to let her see what was going forward, that Alizon 
reluctantly and tremblingly assented, and they moved slowly to 
wards the transept, taking care to keep under the shelter of the 
columns. 

On reaching the last pillar, behind which they remained, an ex 
traordinary and fearful spectacle burst upon them. As they had 
supposed, a large fire was burning in the midst of the choir, the 
smoke of which, ascending in eddying wreaths, formed a dark can 
opy overhead, where it was mixed with the steam issuing from a 
large black bubbling caldron set on the blazing embers. Around 
the fire were ranged, in a wide circle, an assemblage of men and 
women, but chiefly the latter, and of these almost all old, hideous, 
and of malignant aspect, their grim and sinister features looking 
ghastly in the lurid light. Above them, amid the smoke and steam, 
wheeled bat and flitter-mouse, horned owl and screech-owl, in mazy 
circles. The weird assemblage chattered together in some wild 
jargon, mumbling and muttering spells and incantations, chanting 
fearfully with hoarse, cracked voices a wild chorus, and anon break 
ing into a loud and long-continued peal of laughter. Then there 
was more mumbling, chattering, and singing, and one of the troop 
producing a wallet, hobbled forward. 

She was a fearful old crone; hunchbacked, toothless, blear-eyed, 
bearded, halt, with huge gouty feet swathed in flannel. As she 
cast in the ingredients one by one, she chanted thus : 

" Head of monkey, brain of cat, 
Eye of weasel, tail of rat, 
Juice of mugwort, mastic, myrrh 
All within the pot I stir." 

" Well sung, Mother Mould-heels," cried a little old man, whose 
doublet and hose were of rusty black, with a short cloak, of the 
same hue, over his shoulders. " Well sung, Mother Mould- heels," 
he cried, advancing as the old witch retired, amidst a roar of laugh 
ter from the others, and chanting as he filled the caldron : 

" Here is foam from a mad dog's lips, 
Gather'd beneath the moon's eclipse, 
Ashes of a shroud consumed, 
And with deadly vapour fumed. 
These within the mess I cast 
Stir the caldron stir it fast ! " 

A red-haired witch then took his place, singing, 

" Here are snakes from out the river, 
Bones of toad and sea-calf's liver ; 
Swine's flesh fatten'd on her brood, 1 
Wolf's tooth, hare's foot, weasel's blood. 
Skull of ape and fierce baboon, 
And panther spotted like the moon ; 
Feathers of the horned owl, 
Daw, pie, and other fatal fowL 
Fruit from fig-tree never sown, 
Seed from cypress never grown. 
All within the mess I cast, 
Stir the caldron stir it fast ! * 



196 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Nance Redferne then advanced, and, taking from her wallet a 
small clay image, tricked out in attire intended to resemble that 
of James Device, plunged several pins deeply into its breast, sing 
ing as she did so, thus, 

" In his likeness it is moulded, 
In his vestments 'tis enfolded. 
Ye may know it, as I show it! 
In its breast sharp pins I stick, 
And I drive them to the quick. 
They are in they are in . / 

And the wretch's pangs begin. 
Now his heart, 
Feels the smart ; 
Through his marrow, 
Sharp as arrow, 
Torments quiver 
He shall shiver, 
He shall burn, 

He shall toss, and he shall turn. 
Unavailingly. 
Aches shall rack him, 
Cramps attack him ; 
He shall wail, 
Strength shall fail, 
Till he die 
Miserably ! " 

As Nance retired, another witch advanced, and sung thus; 

" Over mountain, over valley, over woodland, over waste, 
On our gallant broomsticks riding we have come with frantic hastb, 
And the reason of our coming, as ye wot well, is to see 
Who this night, as new-made witch, to our ranks shall added be." 

A wild burst of laughter followed this address, and another 
wizard succeeded, chanting thus : 

" Beat the water, Demdike's daughter ! 

Till the tempest gather o'er us ; 
Till the thunder strike with wonder 

And the lightnings flash before us ! 
Beat the water, Demdike's daughter ! 
Ruin seize our foes and slaughter ! " 

As the words were uttered, a woman stepped from out the 
circle, and throwing back the grey-hooded cloak in which she was 
enveloped, disclosed the features of Elizabeth Device. Her 
presence in that fearful assemblage occasioned no surprise to 
Alizon, though it increased her horror A pail of water was next 
set before the witch, and a broom being placed in her hand, she 
struck the lymph with it, sprinkling it aloft, and uttering this spell : 

" Mount, water, to the skies ! 
Bid the sudden storm arise. 
Bid the pitchy clouds advance, 
Bid the forked lightnings glance, 
Bid the angry thunder growl, 
Bid the wild wind fiercely howl ! 
Bid the tempest come amain, 
Thunder, lightning, wind, and rain!" 

As she concluded, clouds gathered thickly overhead, obscuring 




THE INCANTATION. 



P. 196. 



THE NOCTURNAL MEETING. 197 

the stars that had hitherto shone down from the heavens. The 
wind suddenly arose, but in lieu of dispersing the vapours it 
seemed only to condense them. A flash of forked lightning cut 
through the air, and a loud peal of thunder rolled overhead. 
Then the whole troop sang together 

" Beat the water, Demdike's daughter ! 

See the tempests gathers o'er us, 
Lightning flashes thunder crashes, 
Wild winds sing in lusty chorus ! " 

For a brief space the storm raged fearfully, and recalled the 
terror of that previously witnessed by Alizon, which she now 
began to think might have originated in a similar manner. The 
wind raved around the ruined pile, but its breath was not felt 
within it, and the rain was heard descending in deluging showers 
without, though no drop came through the open roof. The thun 
der shook the walls and pillars of the old fabric, and threatened 
to topple them down from their foundations, but they resisted the 
shocks. The lightning played around the tall spire springing 
from this part of the fane, and ran down from its shattered sum 
mit to its base, without doing any damage. The red bolts struck 
the ground innocuously, though they fell at the very feet of the 
weird assemblage, who laughed wildly at the awful tumult. 

Whilst the storm was at its worst, while the lightning was 
flashing fiercely, and the thunder rattling loudly, Mother Chattox, 
with a chafing-dish in her hand, advanced towards the fire, and 
placing the pan upon it, threw certain herbs and roots into it, 
chanting thus : 

" Here is juice of poppy bruised, 
With black hellebore infused ; 
Here is mandrake's bleeding root, 
Mixed with moonshade's deadly fruit ; 
Viper's bag with venom fill'd, 
Taken ere the beast was kill'd ; 
Adder's skin and raven's feather, 
With shell of beetle blent together ; 
Dragonwort and barbatus, 
Hemlock black and poisonous ; 
Horn of hart, and storax red, 
Lapwing's blood, at midnight shed* 
In the heated pan they burn, 
And to pungent vapours turn. 
By this strong suffumigation, 
By this potent invocation, 
Spirits ! I compel you here ! 
All who list may call appear ! " 

After a moment's pause, she resumed as follows r 

" White-robed brethren, who of old, 
Nightly paced yon cloisters cold, 
Sleeping now beneath the mould ! 
I bid ye rise. 

" Abbots ! by the weakling fear'd, 
By the credulous revered, 
Who this mighty fabric rear'd ! 
I bid ye rise ! 



198 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" And thou last and guilty one ! 
By thy lust of power undone, 
Whom in death thy fellows shun ! 
I bid thee come ! 

" And thou fair one, who disdain' d 
To keep the vows thy lips had feign'd ; 
And thy snowy garments stain'd ! 

I bid thee come ! " 

During this invocation, the glee of the assemblage ceased, and 
they looked around in hushed expectation of the result. Slowly 
then did a long procession of monkish forms, robed in white, glide 
along the aisles, and gather round the altar. The brass-covered 
stones within the presbytery were lifted up, as if they moved on 
hinges, and from the yawning graves beneath them arose solemn 
shapes, sixteen in number, each with mitre on head and crosier in 
hand, which likewise proceeded to the altar. Then a loud cry 
was heard, and from a side chapel burst the monkish form, in 
mouldering garments, which Dorothy had seen enter the oratory, 
and which would have mingled with its brethren at the altar, but 
they waved it off menacingly. Another piercing shriek followed, 
and a female shape, habited like a nun, and of surpassing loveli 
ness, issued from the opposite chapel, and hovered near the fire. 
Content with this proof of her power, Mother Chattox waved her 
hand, and the long shadowy train glided off as they came. The 
ghostly abbots returned to their tombs, and the stones closed over 
them. But the shades of Paslew and Isole de Heton still lingered. 

The storm had wellnigh ceased, the thunder rolled hollowly at 
intervals, and a flash of lightning now and then licked the walls. 
The weird crew had resumed their rites, when the door of the Lacy 
chapel flew open, and a tall female figure came forward. 

Alizon doubted if she beheld aright. Could that terrific woman 
in the strangely-fashioned robe of white, girt by a brazen zone 
graven with mystic characters, with a long glittering blade in her 
hand, infernal fury in her wildly-rolling orbs, the livid hue of 
death on her cheeks, and the red brand upon her brow could 
that fearful woman, with the black dishevelled tresses floating 
over her bare shoulders, and whose gestures were so imperious, be 
Mistress Nutter? Mother no longer, if it indeed were she! How 
came she there amid that weird assemblage ? Why did they so 
humbly salute her, and fah 1 prostrate before her, kissing the hem 
of her garment ? Why did she stand proudly in the midst of them, 
and extend her hand, armed with the knife, over them ? Was she 
their sovereign mistress, that they bent so lowly at her coming, 
and rose so reverentially at her bidding? Was this terrible 
woman, now seated on a dilapidated tomb, and regarding the dark 
conclave with the eye of a queen who held their lives in her hands 
was she her mother I Oh, no ! no ! it could not be ! It 
must be some fiend that usurped her likeness. 

Still, though Alizon thus strove to discredit the evidence of her 



THE NOCTURNAL MEETING. 199 

Censes, and to hold all she saw to be delusion, and the work of 
darkness, she could not entirely convince herself, but imperfectly 
recalling the fearful vision she had witnessed during her former 
stupor, began to connect it with the scene now passing before her. 
The storm had wholly ceased, and the stars again twinkled down 
through the shattered roof. Deep silence prevailed, broken only 
by the hissing and bubbling of the caldron. 

Alizon's gaze was riveted upon her mother, whose slightest 
gestures she watched. After numbering the assemblage thrice, 
Mistress Nutter majestically arose, and motioning Mother Chattox 
towards her, the old witch tremblingly advanced, and some words 
passed between them, the import of which did not reach the 
listener's ear. In conclusion, however, Mistress Nutter exclaimed 
aloud, in accents of command " Go, bring it at once, the sacrifice 
must be made." And on this, Mother Chattox hobbled off to one 
of the side chapels. 

A mortal terror seized Alizon, and she could scarcely draw 
breath. Dark tales had been told her that unbaptised infants were 
sometimes sacrificed by witches, and their flesh boiled and de 
voured at their impious banquets, and dreading lest some such 
atrocity was now about to be practised, she mustered all her 
resolution, determined, at any risk, to interfere, and, if possible, 
prevent its accomplishment. 

In another moment, Mother Chattox returned bearing some 
living thing, wrapped in a white cloth, which struggled feebly for 
liberation, apparently confirming Alizon's suspicions, and she was 
about to rush forward, when Mistress Nutter, snatching the bun 
dle from the old witch, onenprj it. and disclosed a beautiful bird, 
with plumage white as dnven snow, wnose legs were tied 
together, so that it could not escape. Conjecturing what was to 
follow, Alizon averted her eyes, and when she looked round again 
the bird had been slain, while Mother Chattox was in the act of 
throwing its body into the caldron, muttering a charm as she 
did so. Mistress Nutter held the ensanguined knife aloft, and 
casting some ruddy drops upon the glowing embers, pronounced, 
as they hissed and smoked, the following adjuration : 
" Thy aid I seek, infernal Power ! 
Be thy word sent to Malkin Tower, 
That the beldame old may know 
Where I will, thou'dst have her go 
"W hat I will, thou'dst have her do ! " 

An immediate response was made by an awful voice issuing 
apparently from the bowels of the earth. 

*' Thou who seek'st the Demon's aid, 
Know'st the price that must be paid." 

The queen witch rejoined 

" I do. But grant the aid I crave, 
And that thou wishest thou shalt have. 
Another worshipper is won, 
Thine to be, when all is done." 



200 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

^gain the deep voice spake, with something of mockery in ite 



accents 



" Enough pro*id witch, I am content. 
To Malkin Tower the word is sent, 
Forth to her task the beldame goes, 
And where she points the streamlet flows j 
Its customary bed forsaking, 
Another distant channel making. 
Hound about like elfets tripping, 
Stock and stone, and tree are skipping j 
Halting where she plants her staff, 
With a wild exulting laugh. 
Ho ! ho ! 'tis a merry sight, 
Thou hast given the hag to-night. 

Lo ! the sheepfold, and the herd, 

To another site are stirr'd ! 

And the rugged limestone quarry, 

Where 'twas digg'd may no more tarry; 

While the goblin haunted dingle, 

With another dell must mingle. 

Pendle Moor is in commotion, 

Like the billows of the ocean, 

When the winds are o'er it ranging; 

Heaving, falling, bursting, changing. 
Ho ! ho ! 'tis a merry sight 
Thou hast given the hag to-night, 

Lo ! the moss-pool sudden flies, 

In another spot to rise ; 

And the scanty- grown plantation, 

Finds another situation, 

And a more congenial soil, 

Without needing woodman's toil. 

Now the warren moves and see ! 

How the burrowing rabbits flee, 

Hither, thither till they find it, 

With another brake behind it. 
Ho ! ho ! 'tis a merry sight 
Thou hast given the hag to-night 

Lo ! new lines the witch is tracing, 
Every well-known mark effacing, 
Elsewhere, other bounds erecting, 
So the old there's no detecting. 
Ho ! ho ! 'tis a pastime quite, 
Thou hast given the hag to-night 1 

The hind at eve, who wander'd o'er 
The dreary waste of Pendle Moor, 
Shall wake at dawn, and in surprise, 
Doubt the strange sight that meets his eyea, 
The pathway leading to his hut 
Winds differently, the gate is shut. 
The ruin on the right that stood. 
Lies on the left, and nigh the wood ; 
The paddock fenced with wall of stone, 
Well-stock'd with kine, a mile hath flown, 
The sheepfold and the herd are gone. 
Through channels new the brooklet rushes, 
Its ancient course conceal'd by bushes. 
Where the .. .low was, a mound* 
Rises from the upheaved ground. 
Doubting, shouting with surprise, 
How the fool stares, and rubs his eyes ! 



THE NOCTURNAL MEETING. 201 

All's so changed, the simple elf 

Fancies he is changed himself! 

Ho ! ho ! 'tis a merry sight 

The hag shall have when dawns the light. 

But see ! she halts and waves her hand. 

All is done as thou hast plann'd." 

After a moment's pause the voice added, 

" I have done as thou hast will'd 
Now be thy path straight fulfill'd." 

" It shall be," replied Mistress Nntter, whose features gleamed 
with fierce exultation. " Bring forth the proselyte !" she shouted. 

And at the words, her swarthy serving-man, Blackadder, came 
forth from the Lacy chapel, leading Jennet by the hand. They were 
followed by Tib, who, dilated to twice his former size, walked 
with tail erect, and eyes glowing like carbuncles. 

At sight of her daughter a loud cry of rage and astonishment 
burst from Elizabeth Device, and, rushing forward, she would have 
seized her, if Tib had not kept her off by a formidable display of 
teeth and talons. Jennet made no effort to join her mother, but 
regarded her with a malicious and triumphant grin. 

" This is my ohilt," screamed Elizabeth. " She canna be 
baptised without my consent, an ey refuse it. Ey dunna want 
her to be a witch at least not yet awhile. What mays yo 
here, yo little plague ? " 

et Ey wur brought here, mother," replied Jennet, with affected 
simplicity. 

" Then get whoam at once, and keep there," rejoined Elizabeth, 
furiously. 

<' Nay, eyst nah go just yet," replied Jennet. " Ey'd fain be 
a witch as weel as yo." 

" Ho ! ho ! ho !" laughed the voice from below. 

" Nah, nah ey forbid it," shrieked Elizabeth, (C ye shanna be 
bapteesed. Whoy ha ye brought her here, madam?" she added 
to Mistress Nutter. " Yo ha' stolen her fro' me. Boh ey pro 
test agen it." 

" Your consent is not required," replied Mistress Nutter, 
waving her off. " Your daughter is anxious to become a witch. 
That is enough/' 

" She is not owd enough to act for herself," said Elizabeth. 

" Age matters not," replied Mistress Nutter. 

"What mun ey do to become a witch?" asked Jennet. 

" You must renounce all hopes of heaven," replied Mistress 
Nutter, " and devote yourself to Satan. You will then be 
baptised in his name, and become one of his worshippers. You 
will have power to afflict all persons with bodily ailments to 
destroy cattle blight corn burn dwellings and, if you be so 
minded, kill those you hate, or who molest you. Do you desire 
to do all this?" 

" Eigh, that ey do," replied Jennet. " Ey ha' more pleasure 



202 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

in evil than in good, an wad rayther see folk weep than laugh ; 
an if cy had the power, ey wad so punish them os jeer at me, 
that they should rue it to their deein' day." 

ee All this you shall do, and more," rejoined Mistress Nutter. 
rt You renounce all hopes of salvation, then, and devote yourself, 
soul and body, to the Powers of Darkness." 

Elizabeth, who was still kept at bay by Tib, shaking her arms, 
and gnashing her teeth, in impotent rage, now groaned aloud ; 
but ere Jennet could answer, a piercing cry was heard, which 
thrilled through Mistress Nutter's bosom, and Alizon, rushing 
from her place of concealment, passed through the weird circle, 
and stood beside the group in the midst of it. 

u Forbear, Jennet," she cried ; " forbear ! Pronounce not 
those impious words, or you are lost for ever. Come with me, 
and I will save you." 

" Sister Alizon," cried Jennet, staring at her in surprise, " what 
makes you here ? " 

" Do not ask but come," cried Alizon, trying to take her hand. 

"Oh! what is this?" cried Mistress Nutter, now partly re 
covered from the consternation and astonishment into which she 
had been thrown by Alizon's unexpected appearance. " Why 
are you here ? How have you broken the chains of slumber in 
which I bound you ? Fly fly at once, this girl is past your 
help. You cannot save her. She is already devoted. Fly. I 
am powerless to protect you here." 

"Ho! ho! ho!" laughed the voice. 

" Do you not hear that laughter ? " cried Mistress Nutter, with 
a haggard look. " Go !" 

u -Never, without Jennet," replied Alizon, firmly. 

" My child my child on my knees I implore you to depart," 
cried Mistress Nutter, throwing herself before her i( You know 
not your danger oh, fly fly !" 

But Alizon continued inflexible. 

" Yo are caught i' your own snare, madam," cried Elizabeth 
Device, with a taunting laugh. u Sin Jennet mun be a witch, 
Alizon con be bapteesed os weel. Your consent is not required 
and age matters not ha ! ha !" 

" Curses upon thy malice," cried Mistress Nutter, rising. 
" What can be done in this extremity ?" 

" Nothing," replied the voice. u Jennet is mine already. If 
not brought hither by thee, or by her mother, she would have 
come of her own accord. I have watched her, and marked her 
for my own. Besides, she is fated. The curse of Paslew clings 
to her." 

As the words were uttered, the shade of the abbot glided for 
wards, and, touching the shuddering child upon the brow with its 
finger, vanished with a lamentable cry. 

" Kneel, Jennet," cried Alizon ; " kneel, and pray !" 



THE NOCTURNAL MEETING. 203 

" To me," rejoined the voice; " she can bend to no other power. 
Alice Nutter, thou hast sought to deceive me, but in vain. I 
bade thee bring thy daughter here, and in place of her thou 
offerest me the child of another, who is mine already. I am not 
to be thus trifled with. Thou knowest my will. Sprinkle water 
over her head, and devote her to me." 

Alizon would fain have thrown herself on her knees, but 
extremity of horror, or some overmastering influence, held her 
fast ; and she remained with her gaze fixed upon her mother, who 
seemed torn by conflicting emotions. 

" Is there no way to avoid this ? " cried Mistress Nutter. 

u No way but one," replied the voice. " I have been offered 
a new devotee, and I claim fulfilment of the promise. Thy 
daughter or another, it matters not but not Jennet." 

tf I embrace the alternative," cried Mistress Nutter. 

" It must be done upon the instant," said the voice. 

(t It shall be," replied Mistress Nutter. And, stretching her 
arm in the direction of the mansion, she called in a loud impe 
rious voice, u Dorothy Assheton, come hither !" 

A minute elapsed, but no one appeared, and, with a look of 
disappointment, Mistress Nutter repeated the gesture and the 
words. 

Still no one came. 

" Baffled !" she exclaimed, " what can it mean?" 

te There is a maiden within the south transept, who is not one 
of my servants," cried the voice. " Call her." 

u 'Tis she !" cried Mistress Nutter, stretching her arm towards 
the transept. (t This time I am answered," she added, as with a 
wild laugh Dorothy obeyed the summons. 

" I have anointed myself with the unguent, and drank of the 
potion, ha! ha! ha!" cried Dorothy, with a wild gesture, and 
wilder laughter. 

ft Ha ! this accounts for her presence here," muttered Mistress 
Nutter. " But it could not be better. She is in no mood to 
ofter resistance. Dorothy, thou shalt be a witch." 

" A witch ! " exclaimed the bewildered maiden. tc Is Alizon 
a witch?" 

" We are all witches here,'** replied Mistress Nutter. 

Alizon had no power to contradict her. 

** A merry company !" exclaimed Dorothy, laughing loudly. 

u You will say so anon," replied Mistress Nutter, waving her 
hand over her, and muttering a spell ; " but you see them not 
in their true forms, Dorothy. Look again what do you behold 
now?" 

" In place of a troop of old wrinkled crones in wretched 
habiliments," replied Dorothy, " I behold a band of lovely nymphs 
in light gauzy attire, wreathed with flowers, and holding myrtle 
and olive branches in their hands. See they rise, and prepare 



204 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

for the dance. Strains of ravishing music salute the ear. 1 never 
heard sounds so sweet and stirring. The round is formed. The 
dance begins. How gracefully how lightly they move 
ha! ha!" 

Alizon could not check her could not undeceive her for 
power of speech as of movement was denied her, but she com 
prehended the strange delusion under which the poor girl 
laboured. The figures Dorothy described as young and lovely, 
were still to her the same loathsome and abhorrent witches ; 'the 
ravishing music jarred discordantly on her ear, as if produced by 
a shrill cornemuse; and the lightsome dance was a fantastic 
round, performed with shouts and laughter by the whole unhal 
lowed crew. 

Jennet laughed immoderately, and seemed delighted by the 
antics of the troop. 

u Ey never wished to dance efore," she cried, (e boh ey should 
like to try now." 

" Join them, then," said Mistress Nutter. 

And to the little girl's infinite delight a place was made for her 
in the round, and, taking hands with Mother Mould-heels and the 
red-haired witch, she footed it as merrily as the rest. 

" Who is she in the nunlike habit ? " inquired Dorothy, point 
ing to the shade of Isole de Heton, which still hovered near the 
weird assemblage. a She seems more beautiful than all the 
others. Will she not dance with me ? " 

" Heed her not," said Mistress Nutter. 

Dorothy, however, would not be gainsaid, but, spite of the 
caution, beckoned the figure towards her. It came at once, and 
in another instant its arms were enlaced around her. The same 
frenzy that had seized Nicholas now took possession of Dorothy, 
and her dance with Isole might have come to a similar conclu 
sion, if it had not been abruptly checked by Mistress Nutter, 
who, waving her hand, and pronouncing a spell, the figure in 
stantly quitted Dorothy, and, with a wild shriek, fled. 

u How like you these diversions ? " said Mistress Nutter to the 
panting and almost breathless maiden. 

" Marvellously," replied Dorothy ; " but why have you 3cared 
my partner away ?" 

" Because she would have done you a mischief," rejoined Mis 
tress Nutter. But now let me put a question to you. Are you 
willing to renounce your baptism, and enter into a covenant with 
the Prince of Darkness ? " 

Dorothy did not seem in the least to comprehend what was 
eaid to her ; but she nevertheless replied, " I am." 

" Bring water and salt," said Mistress Nutter to Mother 
Chattox. " By these drops I baptise you," she added, dipping 
her fingers in the liquid, and preparing to sprinkle it over the 
brow of the proselyte. 



THE NOCTURNAL MEETING. 205 

Then it was that Aiizon, by an almost superhuman effort, burst 
the spell that bound her, and clasped Dorothy in her arms. 

" You know not what you do, dear Dorothy," she cried. '-' I 
answer for you. You will not yield to the snares and tempta 
tions of Satan, however subtly devised. You defy him and all 
his works. You will make no covenant with him. Though 
surrounded by his bond-slaves, you fear him not. Is it not so ? 
Speak !" 

But Dorothy could only answer with an insane laugh " I will 
be a witch." 

" It is too late," interposed Mistress Nutter. " You cannot 
save her. And, remember ! she stands in your place. Or you or 
she must be devoted." 

" 1 will never desert her," cried Aiizon, twining her arms round 
her. " Dorothy dear Dorothy address yourself to Heaven." 

An angry growl of thunder was heard. 

" Beware!" cried Mistress Nutter. 

" I am not to be discouraged," rejoined Aiizon, firmly. (i You 
cannot gain a victory over a soul in this condition, and I shall 
effect her deliverance. Heaven will aid us, Dorothy." 

A louder roll of thunder was heard, followed by a forked flash 
of lightning. 

" Provoke not the vengeance of the Prince of Darkness," said 
Mistress Nutter. 

" I have no fear," replied Aiizon. " Cling to me, Dorothy. 
No harm shall befall you." 

" Be speedy !" cried the voice. 

fi Let her go," cried Mistress Nutter to Aiizon, " or you will 
rue this disobedience. V\ hy should you interfere with my pro 
jects, and bring ruin on yourself! I would save you. What, still 
obstinate? Nay, then, I will no longer show forbearance Help 
me, sisters. Force the new witch from her. But beware how 
you harm my child." 

At these words the troop gathered round the two girls. But 
Aiizon only clasped her hands more tightly round Dorothy; while 
the latter, on whose brain the maddening potion still worked, 
laughed frantically at them. It was at this moment that Eliza 
beth Device, who had conceived a project of revenge, put it into 
execution. While near Dorothy, she stamped, spat on the ground, 
and then cast a little mould over her, breathing in her ear, u Thou 
art bewitched bewitched by Aiizon Device." 

Dorothy instantly struggled to free herself from Aiizon. 

" Oh ! do not you strive against me, dear Dorothy," cried 
Aiizon. " Remain with me, or you are lost." 

"Hence! oil! set me free!" shrieked Dorothy; "you have 
bewitchea me. I heard it this moment." 

" Do not believe the false suggestion." cried Aiizon. 

" It is true," exclaimed all the other witches too ether. Aiizon 



206 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

has bewitched you, and will kill you. Shake her off shake her 
off!" 

te Away !" cried Dorothy, mustering all her force. " Away !" 

But Alizon was still too strong for her, and, in spite of her 
efforts at liberation, detained her. 

" My patience is wellnigh exhausted," exclaimed the voice. 

" Alizon!" cried Mistress Nutter, imploringly. 

And again the witches gathered furiously round the two girls. 

6i Kneel, Dorothy, kneel!" whispered Alizon. And forcing'her 
down, she fell on her knees beside her, exclaiming, with uplifted 
hands, " Gracious heaven ! deliver us." 

As the words were uttered, a fearful cry was heard, and the 
weird troop fled away screaming, like ill-omened birds. The 
caldron sank into the ground ; the dense mist arose like a 
curtain ; and the moon and stars shone brightly down upon the 
ruined pile. 

Alizon prayed long and fervently, with clasped hands and closed 
eyes, for deliverance from evil. When she looked round again, 
all was so calm, so beautiful, so holy in its rest, that she could 
scarcely believe in the recent fearful occurrences. Her hair and 
garments were damp with the dews of night ; and at her feet lay 
Dorothy, insensible,. 

She tried to raise her to revive her, but in vain; when at this 
moment footsteps were heard approaching, and the next moment 
Mistress Nutter, accompanied by Adam Whitworth and some 
other serving-men, entered the choir. 

" I see them they are here !" cried the lady, rushing forward. 

e6 Heaven be praised you have found them, madam ! " exclaimed 
the old steward, coming quickly after her. 

u Oh ! what an alarm you have given me, Alizon," said Mistress 
Nutter. " What could induce you to go forth secretly at night 
in this way with Dorothy ! I dreamed you were here, and missing 
you when I awoke, roused the house and came in search of you. 
What is the matter with Dorothy ? She has been frightened, I 
suppose. I will give her to breathe at this phial. It will revive 
her. See, she opens her eyes. 

Dorothy looked round wildly for a moment, and then pointing 
her finger at Alizon, said 

" She has bewitched me." 

" Poor thing ! she rambles," observed Mistress Nutter to Adam 
Whitworth, who, with the other serving-men, stared aghast at the 
accusation ; " she has been scared out of her senses by some fear 
ful sight. Let her be conveyed quickly to my chamber, and I 
will see her cared for." 

The orders were obeyed. Dorothy was raised gently by the 
serving-men, but she still kept pointing to Alizon, and repeatedly 
exclaimed 

" She has bewitched me!" 



THE NOCTURNAL MEETING. 207 

TJie serving-men shook their heads, and looked significantly at 
each other, while Mistress Nutter lingered to speak to her 
daughter. 

" You look greatly disturbed, Alizon, as if you had been visited 
by a nightmare in your sleep, and were still under its influence." 

Alizon made no reply. 

" A few hours' tranquil sleep will restore you," pursued Mistress 
Nutter, " and you will forget your fears. You must not indulge 
in these nocturnal rambles again, or they may be attended with 
dangerous consequences. I may not have a second warning 
dream. Come to the house." 

And, as Alizon followed her along the garden path, she could 
not help asking herself, though with little hope in the question, 
if all she had witnessed was indeed nothing more than a troubled 
dream. 



Ut TiiE FlttST BOOK, 



THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 



BOOK THE SECOND. 



fmd. 



CHAPTER I. FLINT. 

A LOVELY morning succeeded the strange and terrible night. 
Brightly shone the sun upon the fair Calder as it winded along 
the green meads above the bridge, as it rushed rejoicingly over 
the weir, and pursued its rapid course through the broad plain 
below the Abbey. A few white vapours hung upon the summit 
of Whalley Nab, but the warm rays tinging them with gold, and 
tipping with fire the tree-tops that pierced through them, augured 
their speedy dispersion. So beautiful, so tranquil, looked the old 
monastic fane, that none would have deemed its midnight rest 
had been broken by the impious rites of a foul troop. The choir, 
where the unearthly scream and the demon laughter had resounded, 
was now vocal with the melodies of the blackbird, the thrush, 
and other songsters of the grove. Bells of dew glittered upon 
the bushes rooted in tfte wails, ana upon tne ivy-grown pil 
lars ; and gemming tne countless spider^' webs stretched from 
bough to bough, showed they were all unbroken. No traces were 
visible on the sod where the unhallowed crew had danced their 
round ; nor were any ashes left where the fire had burnt and the 
caldron had bubbled. The brass-covered tombs of the abbots in 
the presbytery looked as if a century had passed over them with 
out disturbance ; while the graves in the cloister cemetery, 
obliterated, and only to be detected when a broken coffin or a 
mouldering bone was turned up by the tiller of the ground, pre 
served their wonted appearance. The face of nature had received 
neither impress nor injury from the fantasiic freaks and necro 
mantic exhibitions of the witches. Every thing looked as it was 
left overnight ; and the only footprints to be detected were those 
of the two girls, and of the party who came in quest of them. 
All else had passed by like a vision or a dream. The rooks 
cawed loudly in the neighbouring trees, as if discussing the 
question of breakfast, and the jackdaws wheeled merrily round 
the tall spire, which sprang from the eastern end of the fane. 



FLINT. 20vf 

Brightly shone the sun upon the noble timber embowering the 
mansion of the Asshetons ; upon the ancient gateway, in ths 
upper chamber of which Ned Huddlestone, the porter, and the 
burly representative of Friar Tuck, was rubbing his sleepy eyes, 
preparatory to habiting himself in his ordinary attire ; and upon 
the wide court-yard, across which Nicholas was walking in the 
direction of the stables. Notwithstanding his excesses overnight, 
the squire was astir, as he had declared he should be, before day 
break; and a plunge into the Calder had cooled his feverish 
limbs and cured his racking headache, while a draught of ale set 
his stomach right. Still, in modern parlance, he looked rather 
" seedy," and his recollection of the events of the previous night 
was somewhat confused. Aware he had committed many fool 
eries, he did not desire to investigate matters too closely, and 
only hoped he should not be reminded of them by Sir Ralph, or 
worse still, by Parson Dewhurst. As to his poor, dear, uncom 
plaining wife, he never once troubled his head about her, feeling 
quite sure she would not upbraid him. On his appearance in the 
court-yard, the two noble blood-hounds and several lesser dogs 
came forward to greet him, and, attended by this noisy pack, he 
marched up to a groom, who was rubbing down his horse at the 
stable-door. 

"Poor Robin," he cried to the steed, who neighed at his 
approach. " Poor Robin," he said, patting his neck affectionately, 
" there is not thy match for speed or endurance, for fence or 
ditch, for beck or stone wall, in the country. Half an hour on 
thy back will make all right with me ; but I would rather take 
thee to Bowland Forest, and hunt the stag there, than go and 
perambulate the boundaries of the Rough Lee estates with a ras 
cally attorney. I wonder how the fellow will be mounted." 

" If yo be speering about Mester Potts, squoire," observed the 
groom, u ey con tell ye. He's to ha' little Flint, the Welsh 
pony." 

"Why, zounds, you don't say, Peter!" exclaimed Nicholas, 
laughing ; " he'll never be able to manage him. Flint's the 
wickedest and most wilful little brute 1 ever knew. We shall 
Kave Master Potts run away with, or thrown into a moss-pit. 
Better give him something quieter." 

" It's Sir Roaph's orders," replied Peter, " an ey darna disobey 
'em. Boh Flint's far steadier than when yo seed him last, squoire. 
Ey dar say he'll carry Mester Potts weel enough, if he dusna 
mislest him." 

" You think nothing of the sort, Peter," said Nicholas. " You 
expect to see the little gentleman fly over the pony's head, and 
perhaps break his own at starting. But if Sir Ralph has ordered 
it, he must abide by the consequences. I sha'n't interfere further. 
How goes on the young colt you were breaking in ? You should 
lake care to show him the saddle in the manger, let him smell it, 



210 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

and jingle the stirrups in his ears, before you put it on his back. 
Better ground for his first lessons could not be desired than the 
field below the grange, near the Calder. Sir Ralph was saying 
yesterday, that the roan mare had pricked her foot. You must 
wash the sore well with white wine and salt, rub it with the oint 
ment the farriers cah* aegyptiacum, and then put upon it a hot 
plaster compounded of flax hards, turpentine, oil and wax, bath 
ing the top of the hoof with bole arrneniac and vinegar. This is 
the best and quickest remedy. And recollect, Peter, that/for a 
new strain, vinegar, bole armeniac, whites of eggs, and bean-flour, 
make the best salve. How goes on Sir Ralph's black charger, 
Dragon ? A brave horse that, Peter, and the only "one in your 
master's whole stud to compare with my Robin ! But Dragon, 
though of high courage and great swiftness, has not the strength 
and endurance of Robin neither can he leap so well. Why, 
Robin would almost clear the Calder, Peter, and makes nothing 
of Smithies Brook, near Downham, and you know how wide that 
stream is. I once tried him at the Ribble, at a narrow point, 
and if horse could have done it, he would but it was too much 
to expect." 

" A great deal, ey should say, squoire," replied the groom, 
opening his eyes to their widest extent. " Whoy, th' Ribble, 
where yo speak on, mun be twenty yards across, if it be an inch; 
and no nag os ever wur bred could clear that, onless a witch wur 
on his back." 

" Don't aUude to witches, Peter," said Nicholas. " I've had 
enough of them. But to come back to our steeds. Colour is 
matter of taste, and a man must please his own eye with bay or 
grey, chestnut, sorrel, or black ; but dun is my fancy. A good 
horse, Peter, should be clean-limbed, short-jointed, strong-hoofed, 
out-ribbed, broad-chested, deep-necked, loose-throttled, thin- 
crested, lean-headed, full-eyed, with wide nostrils. A horse with 
half these points would not be wrong, and Robin has them all." 

" So he has, sure enough, squoire," replied Peter, regarding the 
animal with an approving eye, as Nicholas enumerated his merits. 
" Boh, if ey might choose betwixt him an yunk Mester Ruchot 
Assheton's grey gelding, Merlin, ey knoas which ey'd tak." 

" Robin, of course," said Nicholas. 

" Nah, squoire, it should be t'other," replied the groom. 

"You're no judge of a horse, Peter," rejoined Nicholas, shrug 
ging his shoulders. 

" May be not," said the groom, rt boh ey'm bound to speak 
truth. An see ! Turn Lomax is bringin' out Merlin. We con 
put th' two nags soide by soide, if yo choose." 

" They shall be put side by side in the field, Peter that's the 
way to test their respective merit," returned Nicholas, " and they 
won't remain long together, I'll warrant you. I offered to make 
a match for twenty pieces with Master Richard, but he declined 



FLINT. 211 

the offer. Harkee, Peter, break an egg in Robin's mouth before 
you put on his bridle. It strengthens the wind, and adds to a 
horse's power of endurance. You understand?" 

t6 Parfitly, squoire," replied the groom. " By th' mess ! that's 
a secret worth knoain'. Onny more orders ?" 

" No," replied Nicholas. " We shall set out in an hour or it 
may be sooner." 

" Aw shan be ready," said Peter. And he added to himself, 
as Nicholas moved away, " Ey'st tak care Turn Lomax gies an 
egg to Merlin, an that'll may aw fair, if they chance to try their 
osses* mettle. 

As Nicholas returned to the house, he perceived to his dismay 
Sir Ralph and Parson Dewhurst standing upon the steps; and 
convinced, from their grave looks, that they were prepared to 
lecture him, he endeavoured to nerve himself for the infliction. 

" Two to one are awkward odds," said the squire to himself, 
" especially when they have the Vantage ground. But I must 
face them, and make the best fight circumstances will allow. I 
shall never be able to explain that mad dance with Isole de Heton. 
No one but Dick will believe me, and the chances are he will not 
support my story. But I must put on an air of penitence, and 
sooth to say, in my present state, it is not very difficult to 
assume." 

Thus pondering, with slow step, affectedly humble demeanour, 
and surprisingly-lengthened visage, he approached the pair who 
were waiting for him, and regarding him with severe looks. 

Thinking it the best plan to open the fire himself, Nicholas 
saluted them, and said 

" Give you good- day, Sir Ralph, and you too, worthy Master 
Dewhurst. I scarcely expected to see you so early astir, good 
sirs ; but the morning is too beautiful to allow us to be sluggards. 
For my own part I have been awake for hours, and have passed 
the time wholly in self-reproaches for my folly and sinfulness last 
night, as well as in forming resolutions for self-amendment, and 
better governance in future." 

" I hope you will adhere to those resolutions, then, Nicholas," 
rejoined Sir Ralph, sternly ; " for change of conduct is absolutely 
necessary, if you would maintain your character as a gentleman. 
I can make allowance for high animal spirits, and can excuse some 
licence, though I do not approve of it; but I will not permit de 
corum to be outraged in my house, and suffer so ill an example 
to be set to my tenantry." 

" Fortunately I was not present at the exhibition," said Dew 
hurst ; but I am told you conducted yourself like one possessed, 
and committed such freaks as are rarely, if ever, acted by a rational 
beinj 



can offer no defence, worthy sir, and you my respected re 
lative," returned Nicholas, with a contrite air; " neither can you 



212 THE LANG AST! TIE WITCHES. 

reprove me more strongly than I deserve, nor than I upbraid my 
self. I allowed myself to be overcome by wine, and in that con 
dition was undoubtedly guilty of follies I must ever regret." 

" Amongst others, I believe you stood upon your head," re 
marked Dewhurst. 

" I am not aware of the circumstance, reverend sir," replied 
Nicholas, with difficulty repressing a smile ; " but as I certainly 
lost my head, I may have stood upon it unconsciously. But I do 
recoUect enough to make me heartily ashamed of myself, 'and 
determine to avoid all such excesses in future." 

f( In that case, sir," rejoined Dewhurst, " the occurrences of last 
night, though sufficiently discreditable to you, will not be without 
profit ; for I have observed to my infinite regret, that you are apt 
to indulge in immoderate potations, and when under their influence 
to lose due command of yourself, and commit follies which your 
sober reason must condemn. At such times I scarcely recognise 
you. You speak with unbecoming levity, and even aUow oaths 
to escape your lips." 

" It is too true, reverend sir," said Nicholas ; " but, zounds ! 
a plague upon my tongue it is an unruly member. Forgive me, 
good sir, but my brain is a little confused." 

"I do not wonder, from the grievous assaults made upon it last 
night, Nicholas," observed Sir Ralph. " Perhaps you are not aware 
that your crowning act was whisking wildly round the room by 
yourself, like a frantic dervish." 

" I was dancing with Isole de Heton," said Nicholas. 
rt With whom?" inquired Dewhurst, in surprise. 
" With a wicked votaress, who has been dead nearly a couple 
of centuries," interposed Sir Ralph ; " and who, by her sinful life, 
merited the punishment she is said to have incurred. This delusion 
shows how dreadfully intoxicated you were, Nicholas. For the 
time you had quite lost your reason." 

if I am sober enough now, at ah 1 events," rejoined Nicholas; "and 
I am convinced that Isole did dance with me, nor will any argu 
ments reason me out of that belief." 

u I am sorry to hear you say so, Nicholas," returned Sir Ralph. 
" That you were under the impression at the time I can easily 
understand ; but that you should persist in such a senseless and 
wicked notion is more than I can comprehend." 

" I saw her with my own eyes as plainly as I see you, Sir Ralph," 
replied Nicholas, warmly ; " that I declare upon my honour and 
conscience, and I also felt the pressure of her arms. Whether 
it may not have been the Fiend in her likeness I will not take 
upon me to declare and indeed I have some misgivings on the 
subject; but that a beautiful creature, exactly resembling the 
votaress, danced with me, I will ever maintain." 
^" If so, she was invisible to others, for I beheld her not," said 
Sir Ralph; " and, though I cannot yield credence to your explana- 



FLINT. 213 

fcion, yet, granting it to be correct, I do not see how it mends your 
case." 

" On the contrary, it only proves that Master Nicholas yielded 
to the snares of Satan," said Dewhurst, shaking his head. " I would 
recommend you long fasting and frequent prayer, my good sir, 
and I shall prepare a lecture for your special edification, which I 
will propound to you on your return to Downham, and, if it fails in 
effect, I will persevere with other godly discourses." 

" With your aid, I trust to be set free, reverend sir," returned 
Nicholas; "but, as I have already passed two or three hours in 
prayer, I hope they may stand me in lieu of any present fasting, and 
induce you to omit the article of penance, or postpone it to some 
future occasion, when I may be better able to perform it; for I am 
just now particularly hungry, and am always better able to resist 
temptation with a full stomach than an empty one. As I find it 
displeasing to Sir Ralph, I will not insist upon my visionary part 
ner in the dance, at least until I am better able to substantiate 
the fact ; and I shall listen to your lectures, worthy sir, with great 
delight, and, I doubt not, with equal benefit ; but in the mean 
time, as carnal wants must be supplied, and mundane matters 
attended to, I propose, with our excellent host's permission, that 
we proceed to breakfast." 

Sir Ralph made no answer, but ascended the steps, and was 
followed by Dewhurst, heaving a deep sigh, and turning up the 
whites of his eyes, and by Nicholas, who felt his bosom eased of 
half its load, and secretly congratulated himself upon getting out 
f the scrape so easily. 

In the hall they found Richard Assheton habited in a riding- 
dress, Looted, spurred, and in all respects prepared for the expe 
dition. There were such evident traces of anxiety and suffering 
about him, that Sir Ralph questioned him as to the cause, and 
Richard replied that he had passed a most restless night. He did 
not add, that he had been made acquainted by Adam Whitworth 
with the midnight visit of the two girls to the conventual church, 
because he was well aware Sir Ralph would be greatly displeased 
by the circumstance, and because Mistress Nutter had expressed 
a wish that it should be kept secret. Sir Ralph, however, saw 
there was more upon his young relative's mind than he chose to 
confess, but he did not urge any further admission into his con 
fidence. 

Meantime, the party had been increased by the arrival of Master 
Potts, who was likewise equipped for the ride. The hour was too 
early, it might be, for him, or he had not rested well like Richard, 
or had been troubled with bad dreams, but certainly he did not 
look very well, or in very good-humour. He had slept at the 
Abbey, having been accommodated with a bed after the sudden 
seizure which he attributed to the instrumentality of Mistress 
.Nutter. The little attorney bowed obsequiously to Sir Ralph, 



214 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

who returned bis salutation very stiffly, nor was he much better 
received by the rest of the company. 

At a sign from Sir Ralph, his guests then knelt down, and a 
prayer was uttered by the divine or rather a discourse, for it 
partook more of the latter character than the former. In the 
course of it he took occasion to paint in strong colours the terrible 
consequences of intemperance, and Nicholas was obliged to endure 
a well-merited lecture of half an hour's duration. But even Parson 
Dewhurst could not hold out for ever, and, to the relief of alf his 
hearers, he at length brought this discourse to a close. 

Breakfast at this period was a much more substantial affair 
than a modern morning repast, and differed little from dinner or 
supper, except in respect to quantity. On the present occasion, 
there were carbonadoes of fish and fowl, a cold chine, a huge pasty, 
a capon, neat's tongues, sausages, botargos, and other matters as 
provocative of thirst as sufficing to the appetite. Nicholas set to 
work bravely. Broiled trout, steaks, and a huge slice of venison 
pasty, disappeared quickly before him, and he was not quite so 
sparing of the ale as seemed consistent with his previously-express 
ed resolutions of temperance. In vain Parson Dewhurst filled a 
goblet with water, and looked significantly at him. He would 
not take the hint, and turned a deaf ear to the admonitory cough 
of Sir Ralph. He had little help from the others, for Richard ate 
sparingly, and Master Potts made a very poor figure beside him. 
At length, having cleared his plate, emptied his cup, and wiped his 
lips, the squire arose, and said he must bid adieu to his wife, and 
should then be ready to attend them. 

While he quitted the hall for this purpose, Mistress Nutter 
entered it. She looked paler than ever, and her eyes seemed 
larger, darker, and brighter. Nicholas shuddered slightly as she 
approached, and even Potts felt a thrill of apprehension pass 
through his frame. He scarcely, indeed, ventured a look at her, 
for he dreaded her mysterious power, and feared she could fathom 
the designs he secretly entertained against her. But she took no 
notice whatever of him. Acknowledging Sir Ralph's salutation, 
she motioned Richard to follow her to the further end of the room. 

Ce Your sister is very ill, Richard," she said, as the young man 
attended her, " feverish, and almost light-headed. Adam Whit- 
worth has told you, I know, that she was imprudent enough, in 
company with Alizon, to visit the ruins of the conventual church late 
last night, and she there sustained some fright, which has produced 
a great shock upon her system. When found, she was fainting, and 
though I have taken every care of her, she still continues much 
excited, and rambles strangely. You will be surprised as well as 
grieved when I tell you, that she charges Alizon with having 
bewitched her." 

" How, madam !" cried Richard. " Alizon bewitch her! It is 
impossible." 



FLINT. 



215 



" You are right, Richard/' replied Mistress Nutter ; " the 
thing is impossible ; but the accusation will find easy credence 
among the superstitious household here, and may be highly pre 
judicial, if not fatal to poor Alizon. It is most unlucky she should 
have gone out in this way, for the circumstance cannot be 
explained, and in itself serves to throw suspicion upon her." 

" I must see Dorothy before I go," said Richard ; " perhaps I 
may be able to soothe her." 

" It was for that end I came hither," replied Mistress Nutter ; 
" but I thought it well you should be prepared. Now come with 
me." 

Upon this they left the hall together, and proceeded to the 
abbot's chamber, where Dorothy was lodged. Richard was 
greatly shocked at the sight of his sister, so utterly changed was 
she from the blithe being of yesterday then so full of health and 
happiness. Her cheeks burnt with fever, her eyes were unnatu 
rally bright, and her fair hair hung about her face in disorder. 
She kept fast hold of Alizon, who stood beside her. 

" Ah, Richard !" she cried on seeing him, " I am glad you are 

come. You will persuade this girl to restore me to reason to 

free me from the terrors that beset me. She can do so if she will." 

rt Calm yourself, dear sister," said Richard, gently endeavouring 

to free Alizon from her grasp. 

" No, do not take her from me," said Dorothy, wildly ; " I am 
better when she is near me much better. My brow does not 
throb so violently, and my limbs are not twisted so painfully. Do 
you know what ails me, Richard t " 

u You have caught cold from wandering out indiscreetly last 
night," said Richard. 

" I am bewitched !" rejoined Dorothy, in tones that pierced 
her brother's brain " bewitched by Alizon Device by your 
love ha ! ha ! She wishes to kill me, Richard, because she thinks 
I am in her way. But you will not let her do it." 

" You are mistaken, dear Dorothy. She means you no harm," 
said Richard 

" Heaven knows how much I grieve for her, and how fondly I 
love her ! " exclaimed Alizon, tearfully. 

" It is false!" cried Dorothy. She will tell a different tale 
when you are gone. She is a witch, and you shall never marry 
her, Richard never! never!" 

Mistress Nutter, who stood at a little distance, anxiously 
observing what was passing, waved her hand several times 
towards the sufferer, but without effect. 

" I have no influence over her," she muttered. " She is really 
bewitched. I must find other means to quieten her." 

Though both greatly distressed, Alizon and Richard redoubled 
their attentions to the poor sufferer. For a few moments she 
remained quiet, but with her eyes constantly fixed on Alizon, and 



216 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

then said, quickly and fiercely, " I have been told, if you 
scratch one who has bewitched you till you draw blood, you will 
be cured. I will plunge my nails in her flesh." 

" I will not oppose you," replied Alizon, gently ; " tear my 
flesh if you will. You should have my life's blood if it would 
cure you ; but if the success of the experiment depends on my 
having bewitched you, it will assuredly fail." 

" This is dreadful," interposed Richard. " Leave her, Alizon, 
I entreat of you. She will do you an injury." 

6e I care not," replied the young maid. " I will stay by her till 
she voluntarily releases me." 

The almost tigress fury with which Dorothy had seized upon 
the unresisting girl here suddenly deserted her, and, sobbing 
hysterically, she fell upon her neck. Oh, with what delight 
Alizon pressed her to her bosom ! 

" Dorothy, dear Dorothy!" she cried. 

"Alizon, dear Alizon!" responded Dorothy. "Oh! how 
could I suspect you of any ill design against me ! " 

" She is no witch, dear sister, be assured of that!" said 
Richard. 

"Oh, no no no! I am quite sure she is not," cried Dorothy, 
kissing her affectionately. 

This change had been wrought by the low-breathed spells of 
Mistress Nutter. 

66 The access is over," she mentally ejaculated; "but I must 
get him away before the fit returns. " You had better go now, 
Richard," she added aloud, and touching his arm, " I will answer 
for your sister's restoration. An opiate will produce sleep, and if 
possible, she shall return to Middleton to-day." 

" If I go, Alizon must go with me," said Dorothy. 
" Well, well, I will not thwart your desires," rejoined Mistress 
Nutter. And she made a sign to Richard to depart. 

The young man pressed his sister's hand, bade a tender farewell 
to Alizon, and, infinitely relieved by the improvement which had 
taken place in the former, and which he firmly believed would 
speedily lead to her entire restoration, descended to the entrance- 
hall, where he found Sir Ralph and Parson Dewhurst, who told 
him that Nicholas and Potts were in the court-yard, and impatient 
to set out. 

Shouts of laughter saluted the ears of the trio as they descended 
the steps. The cause of the merriment was speedily explained 
when they looked towards the stables, and beheld Potts struggling 
for mastery with a stout Welsh pony, who showed every disposition, 
by plunging, kickin ^ and rearing, to remove Mm from his seat, 
though without success, for the attorney was not quite such a con 
temptible horseman as might be imagined. A wicked-looking 
little fellow was Flint, with a rough, rusty-black coat, a 
thick tail that swept the ground, a mane to match, and 



FLINT. 217 

an eye of mixed fire and cunning. When brought forth, 
he had allowed Potts to mount him quietly enough; but no 
sooner was the attorney comfortably in possession, than he 
was served with a notice of ejectment. Down went Flint's head 
and up went his heels; while on the next instant he was rearing 
aloft, with his fore-feet beating the air, so nearly perpendicular, 
that the chances seemed in favour of his coming down on his 
back. Then he whirled suddenly round, shook himself violently, 
threatened to roll over, and performed antics of the most extraordi 
nary kind, to the dismay of his rider, but to the infinite amusement 
of the spectators, who were ready to split their sides with laughter 
indeed, tears fairly streamed down the squire's cheeks. 
However, when Sir Ralph appeared, it was thought desirable to 
put an end to the fun; and Peter, the groom, advanced to seize 
the restive little animal's bridle, but, eluding the grasp, Flint 
started off at full gallop, and, accompanied by the two blood-hounds, 
careered round the court-yard, as if running in a ring. Vainly 
did poor Potts tug at the bridle. Flint, having the bit firmly 
between his teeth, defied his utmost efforts. Away he went with 
the hounds at his heels, as if, said Nicholas, " the devil were 
behind him." Though annoyed and angry, Sir Ralph could not 
help laughing at the ridiculous scene, and even a smile crossed 
Parson Dewhurst's grave countenance as Flint and his rider 
scampered madly past them. Sir Ralph called to the grooms, 
and attempts were instantly made to check the furious pony's 
career; but he baffled them all, swerving suddenly round when an 
endeavour was made to intercept him, leaping over any trifling 
obstacle, and occasionally charging any one who stood in his path. 
What with the grooms running hither and thither, vociferating 
and swearing, the barking and springing of the hounds, the 
yelping of lesser dogs, and the screaming of poultry, the whole 
yard was in a state of uproar and confusion. 

" Flint mun be possessed," cried Peter. te Ey never seed him 
go on i' this way efore. Ey noticed Elizabeth Device near 
th' stables last neet, an ey shouldna wonder if hoo ha' bewitched 
him." 

" Neaw doubt on't," replied another groom. " Howsomever 
we mun contrive to ketch him, or Sir Roaph win send us aw abowt 
our business. 

"' Ey wish yo'd contrive to do it, then, Turn Lomax," replied 
Peter, " fo' ey'm fairly blowd. Dang me, if ey ever seed sich 
hey-go-mad wark i' my born days. What's to be done, squoire ?" 
he added to Nicholas. 

" The devil only knows," replied the latter ; tf but it seems we 
must wait till the little rascal chooses to stop." 

This occurred sooner than was expected. Thinking, possibly, 
that he had done enough to induce Master Potts to give up all 
idea of riding him, Flint suddenly slackened his pace, and trotted, 



218 THE LANCASHIKE WITCHES. 

as if nothing had happened, to the stable-door ; but if he had 
formed any such notion as the above, he was deceived, for the 
attorney, who was quite as obstinate and wilful as himself, and 
who through all his perils had managed to maintain his seat, was 
resolved not to abandon it, and positively refused to dismount 
when urged to do so by Nicholas and the grooms. 

" He will go quietly enough now, I dare say," observed Potts, 
'* and if not, and you will lend me a hunting-whip, I will undertake 
to cure him of his tricks." 

Flint seemed to understand what was said, for he laid back his 
ears as if meditating more mischief; but being surrounded by the 
grooms, he deemed it advisable to postpone the attempt to a more 
convenient opportunity. In compliance with his request, a heavy 
hunting-whip was handed to Potts, and, armed with this formidable 
weapon, the little attorney quite longed for an opportunity of 
effacing his disgrace. Meanwhile, Sir Ralph had come up and 
ordered a steady horse out for him ; but Master Potts adhered 
to his resolution, and Flint remaining perfectly quiet, the baronet 
let him have his own way. 

Soon after this, Nicholas and Richard having mounted their 
steeds, the party set forth. As they were passing through the 
gateway, which had been thrown wide open by Ned Huddlestone, 
they were joined by Simon Sparshot, who had been engaged by 
Potts to attend him on the expedition in his capacity of constable. 
Simon was mounted on a mule, and brought word that Master 
Roger Nowell begged they would ride round by Read Hall, 
where he would be ready to accompany them, as he wished to be 
present at the perambulation of the boundaries. Assenting to the 
arrangement, the party set forth in that direction, Richard and 
Nicholas riding a little in advance of the others. 



CHAPTER II. READ HALL. 

THE road taken by the party on quitting Whalley led up the 
side of a hill, which, broken into picturesque inequalities, and 
partially clothed with trees, sloped down to the very brink of the 
Calder. Winding round the broad green plain, heretofore 
described, with the lovely knoll in the midst of it, and which formed, 
with the woody hills encircling it, a perfect amphitheatre, the 
river was ever an object of beauty sometimes lost beneath over 
hanging boughs or high banks, anon bursting forth where least ex 
pected, now rushing swiftly over its shallow androcky bed, now sub 
siding into a smooth full current. The Abbey and the village were 
screened from view by the lower part of the hih 1 which the horsemen 
were scaling ; but the old bridge and a few cottages at the foot of 
Whalley Nab, with their thin blue smoke mounting into the pure 



READ HALL. 219 

morning air, gave life and interest to the picture. Hence, from 
base to summit, Whalley Nab stood revealed, and the verdant 
lawns opening out amidst the woods feathering its heights, were 
fully discernible. Placed by Nature as the guardian of this fair 
valley, the lofty eminence well became the post assigned to it. 
None of the belt of hills connected with it were so well wooded 
as their leader, nor so beautiful in form ; while some of them were 
overtopped by the bleak fells of Longridge, rising at a distance 
behind them. 

Nor were those exquisite contrasts wanting, which are only to 
be seen in full perfection when the day is freshest and the dew is 
still heavy on the grass. The near side of the hill was plunged in 
deep shade; thin, gauzy vapour hung on the stream beneath, 
while on the opposite heights, and where the great boulder stones 
were visible in the bed of the river, all was sparkling with sunshine. 
So enchanting was the prospect, that though perfectly familiar 
with it, the two foremost horsemen drew in the rein to con 
template it. High above them, on a sandbank, through which 
their giant roots protruded, shot up two tall silver-stemm'd beech- 
trees, forming with their newly opened foliage a canopy of tenderest 
green. Further on appeared a grove of oaks scarcely in leaf; and 
below were several fine sycamores, already green and umbrageous, 
intermingled with elms, ashes, and horse-chestnuts, and over 
shadowing brakes, covered with maples, alders, and hazels. The 
other spaces among the trees were enlivened by patches of yellow 
flowering and odorous gorse. Mixed with the warblings of in 
numerable feathered songsters were heard the cheering notes of 
the cuckoo ; and the newly-arrived swallows were seen chasing 
the flies along the plain, or skimming over the surface of the river. 
Already had Richard's depression yielded to the exhilarating 
freshness of the morning, and the same kindly influence produced 
a more salutary effect on Nicholas than Parson Dewhurst's lecture 
had been able to accomplish. The worthy squire was a true 
lover of Nature ; admiring her in all her forms, whether arrayed 
in pomp of wood and verdure, as in the lovely landscape before 
him, or dreary and desolate, as in the heathy forest wastes they 
v* - ere about to traverse. While breathing the fresh morning air, 
inhaling the fragrance of the wild-flowers, and listening to the 
warbling of the birds, he took a well-pleased survey of the scene, 
commencing with the bridge, passing over Whalley Nab and the 
mountainous circle conjoined with it, till his gaze settled on 
Morton Hall, a noble mansion finely situated on a shoulder of the 
hill beyond him, and commanding the entire valley. 

et Were I not owner of Downham," he observed to Richard, 
" I should wish to be master of Morton." And then, pointing to 
the green area below, he added, " What a capital spot for a race ! 
There we might try the speed of our nags for the twenty pieces I 
talked of yesterday ; and the judges of the match and those who 



220 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

chose to look on might station themselves on yon knoll, which 
seems made for the express purpose. Three years ago I remember 
a fair was held upon that plain, and the foot-races, the wrestling 
matches, and the various sports and pastimes of the rustics, viewed 
from the knoll, formed the prettiest sight ever looked upon. But, 
pleasant as the prospect is, we must not tarry here all day." 

Before setting forward, he cast a glance towards Pendle Hill, 
which formed the most prominent object of view on the left ; and 
lay like a leviathan basking in the sunshine. The vast mass rose 
up gradually until at its further extremity it attained an altitude 
of more than 1800 feet above the sea. At the present moment 
it was without a cloud, and the whole of its broad outline was 
distinctly visible. 

" I love Pendle Hill," cried Nicholas, enthusiastically ; " and 
from whatever side I view it whether from this place, where I 
see it from end to end, from its lowest point to its highest ; from 
Padiham, where it frowns upon me ; from Clithero, where it 
smiles ; or from Downham, where it rises in full majesty before 
me from all points and under all aspects, whether robed in mist 
or radiant with sunshine, 1 delight in it. Born beneath its giant 
shadow, I look upon it with filial regard. Some folks say Pendle 
Hill wants grandeur and sublimity, but they themselves must be 
wanting in taste. Its broad, round, smooth mass is better than 
the roughest, craggiest, shaggiest, most sharply splintered moun 
tain of them all. And then what a view it commands ! Lan 
caster with its grey old castle on one hand ; York with its 
reverend minster on the other the Irish Sea and its wild coast 
fell, forest, moor, and valley, watered by the Bibble, the Hodder, 
the Calder, and the Lime rivers not to be matched for beauty. 
You recollect the old distich 

* Ingleborough, Pendle Hill, and Pennygent, 
Are the highest hills between Scotland and Trent.' 

This vouches for its height, but there are two other doggerel lines 
still more to the purpose 

* Pendle Hill, Pennygent, and Ingleborough, 
Are three such hills as you'll not find by seeking England thorough.' 

With this opinion I quite agree. There is no hill in England 
like Pendle Hill." 

" Every man to his taste, squire," observed Potts ; " but to my 
mind, Pendle Hill has no other recommendation than its size. I 
think it a great, brown, ugly, lumpy mass, without beauty of 
form or any striking character. I hate your bleak Lancashire 
hills, with heathy ranges on the top, fit only for the sustenance 
of a few poor half-starved sheep ; and as to the view from them, 
it is little else than a continuous range of moors and dwarfed 
forests. Highgate Hill is quite mountain enough for me, and 
Hampstead Heath wild enough for any civilised purpose." 



READ HALL. 221 

(t A veritable son of Cockayne !" muttered Nicholas, con 
temptuously. 

Riding on, and entering the grove of oaks, he lost sight of his 
favourite hill, though glimpses were occasionally caught through 
the trees of the lovely valley below. Soon afterwards the party 
turned off on the left, and presently arrived at a gate which 
admitted them to Read Park. Five minutes' canter over the 
springy turf then brought them to the house. 

The' manor of Reved or Read came into the possession of the 
Nowell family in the time of Edward III., and extended on one 
side, within a mile of WTialley, from which township it was 
divided by a deep woody ravine, taking its name from the little 
village of Sabden, and on the other stretched far into Pendle 
Forest. The hall was situated on an eminence forming part of 
the heights of Padiham, and faced a wide valley, watered by the 
Calder, and consisting chiefly of barren tracts of moor and forest 
land, bounded by the high hills near Accrington and Rossendale. 
On the left, some half-dozen miles off, lay Burnley, and the 
greater part of the land in this direction, being uninclosed and 
thinly peopled, had a dark dreary look, that served to enhance 
the green beauty of the well-cultivated district on the right. 
Behind the mansion, thick woods extended to the very confines 
of Pendle Forest, of which, indeed, they originally formed part, 
and here, if the course of the stream, flowing through the gully 
of Sabden, were followed, every variety of brake, glen, and 
dingle, might be found. Read Hall was a large and commodious 
mansion, forming, with a centre and two advancing wings, three 
sides of a square, between which was a grass-plot ornamented 
with a dial. The gardens were laid out in the taste of the time, 
with trim alleys and parterres, terraces and steps, stone statues, 
and clipped yews. 

The house was kept up well and consistently by its owner, who 
lived like a country gentleman with a good estate, entertained 
his friends hospitably, but without any parade, and was never 
needlessly lavish in his expenditure, unless, perhaps, in the 
instance of the large ostentatious pew erected by him in the 
parish church of Whalley ; and which, considering he had a 
private chapel at home, and maintained a domestic chaplain to do 
duty in it, seemed little required, and drew upon him the censure 
of the neighbouring gossips, who said there was more of pride, 
than religion in his pew. With the chapel at the hall a curious 
history was afterwards connected. Converted into a dining-room 
by a descendant of Roger Nowell, the apartment was incau 
tiously occupied by the planner of the alterations before the 
plaster was thoroughly dried ; in consequence of which he caught 
a severe cold, and died in the desecrated chamber, his fate being 
looked upon as a judgment. 

With many good qualities Roger Nowell was little liked. His 



222 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

austere and sarcastic manner repelled his equals, and his harsh 
ness made him an object of dislike and dread among his inferiors. 
Besides being the terror of all evil-doers, he was a hard man in 
his dealings, though he endeavoured to be just, and persuaded 
himself he was so. A year or two before, having been appointed 
sheriff of the county, he had discharged the important office with 
so much zeal and ability, as well as liberality, that he rose con 
siderably in public estimation. It was during this period that 
Master Potts came under his notice at Lancaster, and the'' little 
attorney's shrewdness gained him an excellent client in the owner 
of Read. Roger No well was a widower; but his son, who resided 
with him, was married, and had a family, so that the hall was 
fully occupied. 

Roger No well was turned sixty, but he was still in the full 
vigour of mind and body, his temperate and active habits keep 
ing him healthy ; he was of a spare muscular frame, somewhat 
bent in the shoulders, and had very sharp features, keen grey 
eyes, a close mouth, and prominent chin. His hair was white as 
silver, but his eyebrows were still black and bushy. 

Seeing the party approach, the lord of the mansion came forth 
to meet them, and begged them to dismount for a moment and 
refresh themselves. Richard excused himself, but Nicholas 
sprang from his saddle, and Potts, though somewhat more slowly, 
imitated his example. An open door admitted them to the 
entrance hall, where a repast was spread, of which the host 
pressed his guests to partake; but Nicholas declined on the score 
of having just breakfasted, notwithstanding which he was easily 
prevailed upon to take a cup of ale. Leaving him to discuss it, 
Nowell led the attorney to a well-furnished library, where he 
usually transacted his magisterial business, and held a few 
minutes' private conference with him, after which they returned 
to Nicholas, and by this time the magistrate's own horse being 
brought round, the party mounted once more. The attorney 
regretted abandoning his seat; for Flint indulged him with 
another exhibition somewhat similar to the first, though of less 
duration, for a vigorous application of the hunting-whip brought 
the wrong-headed little animal to reason. 

Elated by the victory he had obtained over Flint, and antici 
pating a successful issue to the expedition, Master Potts was in 
excellent spirits, and found a great deal to admire in the domain 
of his honoured and singular good client. Though not very 
genuine, his admiration was deservedly bestowed. The portion 
of the park they were now traversing was extremely diversified 
and beautiful, with long sweeping lawns studded with fine trees, 
among which were many ancient thorns, now in full bloom, and 
richly scenting the gale. Herds of deer were nipping the short 
grass, browsing the lower spray of the ashes, or couching amid 
the ferny hollows. 



READ HALL. 223 

It was now that Nicholas, who had been all along anxious to 
try the speed of his horse, proposed to Richard a gallop towards 
a clump of trees about a mile off, and the young man^ assenting, 
away they started. Master Potts started too, for Flint did not 
like to be left behind, but the mettlesome pony was soon dis 
tanced. For some time the two horses kept so closely together, 
that it was difficult to say which would arrive at the goal first ; 
but, by-and-by, Robin got a-head. Though at first indifferent to 
the issue of the race, the spirit of emulation soon seized upon 
Richard, and spurring Merlin, the noble animal sprang forward, 
and was once again by the side of his opponent. 

For a quarter of a mile the ground had been tolerably level, 
and the sod firm ; but they now approached a swamp, and, in his 
eagerness, Nicholas did not take sufficient precaution, and got 
involved in it before he was aware. Richard was more fortunate, 
having kept on the right, where the ground was hard. Seeing 
Nicholas struggling out of the marshy soil, he would have stayed 
for him ; but the latter bade him go on, saying he would soon be 
up with him, and he made good his words. Shortly after this 
their course was intercepted by a brook, and both horses having 
cleared it exceUently, they kept well together again for a short 
time, when they neared a deep dyke which lay between them and 
the clump of trees. On descrying it, Richard pointed out a course 
to the left, but Nicholas held on, unheeding the caution. Fully 
expecting to see him break his neck, for the dyke was of formi 
dable width, Richard watched him with apprehension, but the 
squire gave him a re-assuring nod, and went on. Neither horse 
nor man faltered, though failure would have been certain destruc 
tion to both. The wide trench now yawned before them they 
were upon its edge, and without trusting himself to measure it 
with his eye, Nicholas clapped spurs into Robin's sides. The 
brave horse sprang forward and landed him safely on the opposite 
bank. Hallooing cheerily, as soon as he could check his courser 
the squire wheeled round, and rode back to look at the dyke he 
had crossed. Its width was terrific, and fairly astounded him. 
Robin snorted loudly, as if proud of his achievement, and showed 
some disposition to return, but the squire was quite content with 
what he had done. The exploit afterwards became a theme of 
wonder throughout the country, and the spot was long after 
wards pointed out as " Squire Nicholas's Leap;" but there was 
not another horseman found daring enough to repeat the experi 
ment. 

Richard had to make a considerable circuit to join his cousin, 
and, while he was going round, Nicholas looked out for the others. 
In the distance, he could see Roger Nowell riding leisurely on, 
followed by Sparshot and a couple of grooms, who had come with 
their master from the hall; while midway, to his surprise, he per 
ceived Flint galloping without a rider. A closer examination 



224 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

showed the squire what had happened. Like himself, Master 
Potta had incautiously approached the swamp, and, getting en 
tangled in it, was thrown, head foremost, into the slough ; out of 
which he was now floundering, covered from head to foot with 
inky-coloured slime. As soon as they were aware of the accident, 
the two grooms pushed forward, and one of them galloped after 
Flint, whom he succeeded at last in catching; while the other, 
with difficulty preserving his countenance at the woful plight of 
the attorney, who looked as black as a negro, pointed out a cottage 
in the hollow w ;ich belonged to one of the keepers, and offered 
to conduct him thither. Potts gladly assented, and soon gained 
the little tenement, where he was being washed and rubbed down 
by a couple of stout wenches when the rest of the party came 
up. It was impossible to help laughing at him, but Potts took 
the merriment in good part; and, to show he was not disheart 
ened by the misadventure, as soon as circumstances would permit 
he mounted the unlucky pony, and the cavalcade set forward 
again. 



CHAPTER III. THE BOGGART'S GLEN. 

THE manor of Read, it has been said, was skirted by a deep 
woody ravine of three or four miles in length, extending from the 
little village of Sabden, in Pendle Forest, to within a short dis 
tance of VVhalley ; and through this gully flowed a stream which, 
taking its rise near Barley, at the foot of Pendle Hill, added its 
waters to those of the Calder at a place called Cock Bridge. In 
summer, or in dry seasons, this stream proceeded quietly enough, 
and left the greater part of its stony bed unoccupied; but in 
winter, or after continuous rains, it assumed all the character of 
a mountain torrent, and swept every thing before it. A narrow 
bridle road led through the ravine to Sabden, and along it, after 
quitting the park, the cavalcade proceeded, headed by Nicholas. 

The little river danced merrily past them, singing as it went, 
the sunshine sparkling on its bright clear waters, and glittering 
on the pebbles beneath tbem. Now the stream would chafe and 
foam against some larger impediment to its course ; now it would 
dash down some rocky height, and form a beautiful cascade; then it 
would hurry on for some time with little interruption, till stayed by 
a projecting bank it would form a small deep basin, where, beneath 
the far-cast shadow of an overhanging oak, or under its huge 
twisted and denuded roots, the angler might be sure of finding 
the speckled trout, the dainty greyling, or their mutual enemy, 
the voracious jack. The ravine was well wooded throughout, and 
in many parts singularly beautiful, from the disposition of the 
timber on its banks, as well as from the varied form and character 




POTTS AFTER BEING THROWN FROM HIS HORSE. 



P. 224. 



THE BOGGART'S GLEN. 225 

of the trees. Here might be seen an acclivity covered with waving 
birch, or a top crowned with a mountain ash there, on a smooth 
expanse of greensward, stood a range of noble elms, whose mighty 
arms stretched completely across the ravine. Further on, there 
were chestnut and walnut trees ; willows, with hoary stems and 
silver leaves, almost encroaching upon the stream; larches upon the 
heights; and here and there, upon some sandy eminence, a spread 
ing beech-tree. For the most part the bottom of the glen was 
overgrown with brushwood, and, where its sides were too abrupt 
to admit the growth of larger trees, they were matted with wood 
bine and brambles. Out of these would sometimes start a sharp 
pinnacle, or fantastically-formed crag, adding greatly to the pic 
turesque beauty of the scene. On such points were not unfre- 
quently found perched a hawk, a falcon, or some large bird of 
prey ; for the gully, with its brakes and thickets, was a favourite 
haunt of the feathered tribe. The hollies, of which there were 
plenty, with their green prickly leaves and scarlet berries, afforded 
shelter and support to the blackbird ; the thorns were frequented 
by the thrush ; and numberless lesser songsters filled every other 
tree. In the covert there were pheasants and partridges in abun 
dance, and snipe and wild-fowl resorted to the river in winter. 
Thither also, at all seasons, repaired the stately heron, to devour 
the finny race ; and thither came, on like errand, the splendidly- 
plumed kingfisher. The magpie chattered, the jay screamed and 
flew deeper into the woods as the horsemen approached, and the 
shy bittern hid herself amid the rushes. Occasionally, too, was 
heard the deep ominous croaking of a raven. 

Hitherto, the glen had been remarkable for its softness and 
beauty, but it now began to assume a savage and sombre charac 
ter. The banks drew closer together, and became rugged and 
precipitous; while the trees met overhead, and, intermingling 
their branches, formed a canopy impervious to the sun's rays. 
The stream was likewise contracted in its bed, and its current, 
which, owing to the gloom, looked black as ink, flowed swiftly on, 
as if anxious to escape to livelier scenes. A large raven, which 
had attended the horsemen all the way, now alighted near them, 
and croaked ominously. 

This part of the glen was in very ill repute, and was never 
traversed, even at noonday, without apprehension. Its wild and 
savage aspect, its horrent precipices, its shaggy woods, its 
strangely-shaped rocks and tenebrous depths, where every imper 
fectly-seen object appeared doubly frightful all combined to 
invest it with mystery and terror. ISo one willingly lingered 
here, but hurried on, afraid of the sound of his own footsteps. 
No one dared to gaze at the rocks, lest he should see some 
hideous hobgoblin peering out of their fissures. xNo one glanced 
at the water, for fear some terrible kelpy, with twining snakes for 
hair and scaly hide, should issue from it and drag him down to 

Q 



22 fi THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

devour him with his shark-like teeth. Among the common folk, 
this part of the ravine was known as " the boggart's glen," and 
was supposed to be haunted by mischievous beings, who made the 
unfortunate wanderer their sport. 

For the last half-mile the road had been so narrow and intricate 
in its windings, that the party were obliged to proceed singly ; 
but this did not prevent conversation; and Nicholas, throwing 
the bridle over Robin's neck, left the surefooted animal to pursue 
his course unguided, while he himself, leaning back, chatted with 
Roger Nowell. At the entrance of the gloomy gorge above 
described, Robin came to a stand, and refusing to move at a jerk 
from his master, the latter raised himself, and looked forward to 
see what could be the cause of the stoppage. No impediment 
was visible, but the animal obstinately refused to go on, though 
urged both by word and spur. This stoppage necessarily delayed 
the rest of the cavalcade. 

Well aware of the ill reputation of the place, when Simon 
Sparshot and the grooms found that Robin would not go on, they 
declared he must see the boggart, and urged the squire to turn 
back, or some mischief would befall him. But Nicholas, though 
not without misgivings, did not like to yield thus, especially when 
urged on by Roger Nowell. Indeed, the party could not get out 
of the ravine without going back nearly a mile, while Sabden was 
only half that distance from them. What was to be done? Robin 
still continued obstinate, and for the first time paid no attention 
to his master's commands. The poor animal was evidently a 
prey to violent terror, and snorted and reared, while his limbs 
were bathed in cold sweat. 

Dismounting, and leaving him in charge of Roger Nowell, 
Nicholas walked on by himself to see if he could discover any 
cause for the horse's alarm ; and he had not advanced far, when 
his eye rested upon a blasted oak forming a conspicuous object 
on a crag before him, on a scathed branch of which sat the 
raven. 

Croak ! croak ! croak ! 

" Accursed bird, it is thou who hast frightened my horse," cried 
Nicholas. " Would I had a crossbow or an arquebuss to stop 
thy croaking." 

And as he picked up a stone to cast at the raven, a crashing 
noise was heard among the bushes high up on the rock, and the 
next moment a huge fragment dislodged from the cliff rolled down 
and would have crushed him, if he had not nimbly avoided it. 

Croak! croak! croak! 

Nicholas almost fancied hoarse laughter was mingled with the 
cries of the bird. 

The raven nodded its head and expanded its wings, and the 
squire, whose recent experience had prepared him for any wonder, 
fully expected to hear it speak, but it only croaked loudly and 



THE BOGGART'S GLEN. 227 

exultingly, or if it laughed, the sound was like the creaking of rusty 
hinges. 

Nicholas did not like it at all, and he resolved to go back ; but 
ere he could do so, he was startled by a buffet on the ear, and 
turning angrily round to see who had dealt it, he could distinguish 
no one, but at the same moment received a second buffet on the 
other ear. 

The raven croaked merrily. 

" Would I could wring thy neck, accursed bird !" cried the 
enraged squire. 

Scarcely was the vindictive wish uttered than a shower of blows 
fell upon him, and kicks from unseen feet were applied to his 
person. 

All the while the raven croaked merrily, and flapped his big 
black wings. 

Infuriated by the attack, the squire hit right and left manfully, 
and dashed out his feet in every direction ; but his blows and kicks 
only met the empty air, while those of his unseen antagonist told 
upon his own person with increased effect. 

The spectacle seemed to afford infinite amusement to the raven. 
The mischievous bird almost crowed with glee. 

There was no standing it any longer. So, amid a perfect hur 
ricane of blows and kicks, and with the infernal voice of the raven 
ringing in his ears, the squire took to his heels. On reaching his 
companions he found they had not fared much better than himself. 
The two grooms were belabouring each other lustily ; and Master 
Potts was exercising his hunting-whip on the broad shoulders of 
Sparshot, who in return was making him acquainted with the taste 
of a stout ash-plant. Assailed in the same manner as the squire, 
and naturally attributing the attack to their nearest neighbours, 
they waited for no explanation, but fell upon each other. Kich- 
ard Assheton and Roger Nowell endeavoured to interfere and 
separate the combatants, and in doing so received some hard knocks 
for their pains ; but all their pacific efforts were fruitless, until the 
squire appeared, and telling them they were merely the sport of 
hobgoblins, they desisted, but still the blows fell heavily on them 
as before, proving the truth of Nicholas's assertion. 

Meanwhile the squire had mounted Robin, and, finding the 
horse no longer exhibit the same reluctance to proceed, he dashed 
at full speed through the haunted glen ; but even above the clatter 
of hoofs, and the noise of the party galloping after him, he could 
hear the hoarse exulting croaking of the raven. 

As the gully expanded, and the sun once more found its way 
through the trees, and shone upon the river, Nicholas began to 
breathe more freely ; but it was not until fairly out of the wood 
that he relaxed his speed. Not caring to enter into any expla 
nation of the occurrence, he rode a little apart to avoid conversation; 
and as the others, who were still smarting from the blows they 



228 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

had received, were in no very good-humour, a sullen silence pre 
vailed throughout the party, as they mounted the bare hill-side in 
the direction of the few scattered huts constituting the village of 
Sabden. 

A blight seemed to have fallen upon the place. Roger Nowell, 
who had visited it a few months ago, could scarcely believe his 
eyes, so changed was its appearance. His inquiries as to the cause 
of its altered condition were every where met by the same answer 
the poor people were all bewitched. Here a child was ilTof a 
strange sickness, tossed and tumbled in its bed, and contorted its 
limbs so violently, that its parents could scarcely hold it down. 
Another family was afflicted in a different manner, two of its num 
ber pining away and losing strength daily, as if a prey to some 
consuming disease. In a third, another child was sick, and vomited 
pins, nails, and other extraordinary substances. A fourth house 
hold was tormented by an imp in the form of a monkey, who came 
at night and pinched them all black and blue, spilt the milk, broke 
the dishes and platters, got under the bed, and, raising it to the 
roof, let it fall with a terrible crash ; putting them all in mental 
terror. In the next cottage there was no end to calamities, though 
they took a more absurd form. Sometimes the fire would not 
burn, or when it did it emitted no heat, so that the pot would not 
boil, nor the meat roast. Then the oatcakes would stick to the 
bake-stone, and no force could get them away from it till they 
were burnt and spoiled ; the milk turned sour, the cheese became 
so hard that not even rats' teeth could gnaw it, the stools and 
settles broke down if sat upon, and the list of petty grievances 
was completed by a whole side of bacon being devoured in a single 
night. Roger Nowell and Nicholas listened patiently to a detail 
of all these grievances, and expressed strong sympathy for the 
sufferers, promising assistance and redress if possible. All the 
complainants taxed either Mother Demdike or Mother Chattox 
with afflicting them, and said they had incurred the anger of the 
two malevolent old witches by refusing to supply them with poultry,, 
eggs, milk, butter, or other articles, which they had demanded. 
Master Potts made ample notes of the strange relations, and took 
down the name of every cottager. 

At length, they arrived at the last cottage, and here a man, 
with a very doleful countenance, besought them to stop and listen 
to his tale. 

" What is the matter, friend ?" demanded Roger Nowell, halt 
ing with the others. " Are you bewitched, like your neighbours ? " 

" Troth am ey, your warship," replied the man, " an ey hope 
yo may be able to deliver me. Yo mun knoa, that somehow ey 
wor unlucky enough last Yule to offend Mother Chattox, an ever 
sin then aw's gone wrang wi' me. Th' good-wife con never may 
butter come without stickin' a redhot poker into t' churn ; and 
last week, when our brindlt sow farrowed, and had fifteen to t* 



THE BOGGART'S GLEN. 229 



litter, an' fine uns os ever yo seed, aeign on urn deed. Sad wark ! 
sad wark, mesters. The week efore that t' keaw deed ; an th' 
week efore her th' owd mare, so that aw my stock be gone. Waes 
me ! waes me ! Nowt prospers wi' me. My poor dame is besoide 
hersel, an' th' chilter seems possessed. Ey ha' tried every remedy, 
boh without success. Ey ha' followed th' owd witch whoam, 
plucked a hontle o' thatch fro' her roof, sprinklet it wi' sawt an 
weter, burnt it an' buried th' ess at th' change o' t' moon. No 
use, mesters. Then again, ey ha' getten a horseshoe, heated it 
redhot, quenched it i' brine, an' nailed it to t' threshold wi' three 
nails, heel uppard. No more use nor t'other. Then ey ha' taen 
sawt weter, and put it in a bottle wi' three rusty nails, needles, and 

Eins, boh ey hanna found that th' witch ha' suffered thereby. An, 
istly, ey ha' let myself blood, when the moon wur at full, an in 
opposition to th' owd hag's planet, an minglin' it wi' sawt, ha' burnt 
it i' a trivet, in hopes of afflictm* her ; boh without avail, fo' ey 
seed her two days ago, an she flouted me an scoffed at me. What 
mun ey do, good mesters ? What mun ey do ? " 

" Have you offended any one besides Mother Chattox, my poor 
fellow?" said Nowell. 

" Mother Demdike, may be, your warship," replied the man. 

" You suspect Mother Demdike and Mother Chattox of be 
witching you," said Potts, taking out his memorandum-book, and 
making a note in it. " Your name, good fellow ? " 

" Oamfrey o' Will's o' Bens o' Tummas' o' Sabden," replied 
the man. 

tl Is that all?" asked Potts. 

" What more would you have?" said Richard. The description 
is sufficiently particular." 

if Scarcely precise enough," returned Potts. (t However, it may 
do. We will help you in the matter, good Humphrey Etcetera. 
You shall not be troubled with these pestilent witches much longer. 
The neighbourhood shall be cleared of them." 

" Ey'm reet glad to hear, mester," replied the man. 

" You promise much, Master Potts," observed Richard. 

" Not a jot more than I am able to perform," replied the 
attorney. 

" That remains to be seen," said Richard. " If these old women 
are as powerful as represented, they will not be so readily defeated." 

" There you are in error, Master Richard," replied Potts. " The 
devil, whose vassals they are, will deliver them into our hands." 

" Granting what you say to be correct, the devil must have little 
regard for his servants if he abandons them so easily," observed 
Richard, drily. 

" What else can you expect from him ?" cried Potts. " It is 
his custom to ensnare his victims, and then leave them to their 
fate." 

" You are rather describing the course pursued by certain 



230 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

members of your own profession, Master Potts," said Richard. 
" The devil behaves with greater fairness to his clients." 

" You are not going to defend him, I hope, sir ? " said the 
attorney. 

" No ; I only desire to give him his due," returned Richard. 

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Nicholas. " You had better have 
done, Master Potts ; you will never get the better in the argument. 
But we must be moving, or we shall not get our business done 
before nightfall. As to you, Numps," he added, to the poor man, 
u we will not forget you. If any thing can be done for your 
relief, rely upon it, it shall not be neglected." 

" Ay, ay," said No well, " the matter shall be looked into and 
speedily." 

" And the witches brought to justice," said Potts ; (t comfort 
yourself with that, good Humphrey Etcetera." 

" Ay, comfort yourself with that," observed Nicholas. 

Soon after this they entered a wide dreary waste forming the 
bottom of the valley, lying between the heights of Padiham and 
Pendle Hill, and while wending their way across it, they heard a 
shout from the hill-side, and presently afterwards perceived a man, 
mounted on a powerful black horse, galloping swiftly towards them. 
The party awaited his approach, and the stranger speedily came 
up. He was a small man habited in a suit of rusty black, and 
bore a most extraordinary and marked resemblance to Master 
Potts. He had the same perky features, the same parchment 
complexion, the same yellow forehead, as the little attorney. So 
surprising was the likeness, that Nicholas unconsciously looked 
round for Potts, and beheld him staring at the new-comer in angry 
wonder. 



CHAPTER IV. THE REEVE OF THE FOREST. 

THE surprise of the party was by no means diminished when 
the stranger spoke. His voice exactly resembled the sharp 
cracked tones of the attorney. 

" I crave pardon for the freedom I have taken in stopping you, 
good masters," he said, doffing his cap, and saluting them respect 
fully ; " but, being aware of your errand, I am come to attend you 
on it." 

" And who are you, fellow, who thus volunteer your services 1 " 
demanded Roger Nowell, sharply. 

" I am one of the reeves of the forest of Blackburnshire, 
worshipful sir," replied the stranger, " and as such my presence, 
at the intended perambulation of the boundaries of her property, 
has been deemed necessary by Mrs. Nutter, as I shall have to make 
a representation of the matter at the next court of swain-mote." 



THE REEVE OF THE FOREST. 231 

" Indeed!" exclaimed No well, " but how knew you we were 
coming?" 

" Mistress Nutter sent me word last night/' replied the reeve, 
" that Master Nicholas Assheton and certain other gentlemen, 
would come to Rough Lee for the purpose of ascertaining the 
marks, meres, and boundaries of her property, early this morning, 
and desired my attendance on the occasion. Accordingly I 
stationed myself on yon high ground to look out for you, and have 
been on the watch for more than an hour." 

" Humph!" exclaimed Roger No well, " and you live in the 
forest?" 

" I live at Barrowford, worshipful sir," replied the reeve, " but 
I have only lately come there, having succeeded Maurice Mottis- 
font, the other reeve, who has been removed by the master 
forester to Rossendale, where I formerly dwelt." 

" That may account for my not having seen you before," rejoined 
Nowell. " You are well mounted, sirrah. I did not know the 
master forester allowed his men such horses as the one you ride." 

" This horse does not belong to me, sir," replied the reeve ; " it 
has been lent me by Mistress Nutter." 

" Aha ! I see how it is now," cried Nowell ; " you are suborned 
to give false testimony, knave. I object to his attendance, 
Master Nicholas." 

" Nay, I think you do the man injustice," said the squire. 
" He speaks frankly and fairly enough, and seems to know his 
business. The worst that can be said against him is, that he 
resembles somewhat too closely our little legal friend there. That, 
however, ought to be no objection to you, Master Nowell, but 
rather the contrary." 

rt Well, take the responsibility of the matter upon your own 
shoulders," said Nowell; " if any ill comes of it I shall blame you." 

'' Be it so," replied the squire; "my shoulders are broad 
enough to bear the burthen. You may ride with us, master reeve." 

" May I inquire your name, friend f " said Potts, as the stranger 
fell back to the rear of the party. 

66 Thomas Potts, at your service, sir," replied the reeve. 

" What ! Thomas Potts !" exclaimed the astonished attorney. 

" That is my name, sir," replied the reeve, quietly. * 

*' Why, zounds !" exclaimed Nicholas, who overheard the 
reply, " you do not mean to say your name is Thomas Potts ? 
This is more wonderful still. You must be this gentleman's twin 
brother." 

" The gentleman certainly seems to resemble me very strongly," 
replied the reeve, apparently surprised in his turn. rt Is he of 
these parts ? " 

" No, I am not," returned Potts, angrily, et I am from London, 
where I reside in Chancery-lane, and practise the law, though I 
likewise attend as clerk of the court at the assizes at Lancaster, 



232 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

where I may possibly, one of these days, have the pleasure of 
seeing you, my pretended namesake." 

" Possibly, sir," said the reeve, with provoking calmness. " I 
myself am from Chester, and like yourself was brought up to the 
law, but I abandoned my profession, or rather it abandoned me, 
for I had few clients ; so I took to an hones ter calling, and became 
a forester, as you see. My father was a draper in the city I have 
mentioned, and dwelt in Watergate-street his name was Peter 
Potts." 

u Peter Potts your father !" exclaimed the attorney, in the last 
state of astonishment " Why, he was mine ! But I am his only son." 

" Up to this moment I conceived myself an only son," said the 
reeve ; " but it seems I was mistaken, since I find I have an elder 
brother." 

u Elder brother !" exclaimed Potts, wrathfully. "You are 
older than I am by twenty years. But it is all a fabrication. I 
deny the relationship entirely." 

" You cannot make me other than the son of my father," said 
the reeve, with a smile. 

" Well, Master Potts," interposed Nicholas, laughing, " I see 
no reason why you should be ashamed of your brother. There 
is a strong family likeness between you. So old Peter Potts, the 
draper of Chester, was your father, eh ? I was not aware of the 
circumstance before ha, ha !" 

66 And, but for this intrusive fellow, you would never have be 
come aware of it," muttered the attorney. " Give ear to me, 
squire," he said, urging Flint close up to the other's side, and 
speaking in a low tone, " I do not like the fellow's looks at all." 

" I am surprised at that," rejoined the squire, " for he exactly 
resembles you." 

" That is why I do not like him," said Potts ; " I believe him 
to be a wizard." 

" You are no wizard to think so," rejoined the squire. And he 
rode on to join Roger No well, who was a little in advance. 

" I will try him on the subject of witchcraft," thought Potts. 
" As you dwell in the forest," he said to the reeve, " you have no 
doubt seen those two terrible beings, Mothers Demdike and 
Chattox."* 

(i Frequently," replied the reeve, "but I would rather not talk 
about them in their own territories. You may judge of their 
power by the appearance of the village you have just quitted 
The inhabitants of that unlucky place refused them their 
customary tributes, and have therefore incurred their resentment. 
You will meet other instances of the like kind before you have 
gone far." 

" I am glad of it, for I want to collect as many cases as I can 
of witchcraft," observed Potts. 

" They will be of little use to you," observed the reeve. 



THE REEVE OF THE FOREST. 233 

u How so ? n inquired Potts. 

" Because if the witches discover what you are about, as they 
will not fail to do, you will never leave the forest alive," returned 
the other. 

" You think not I " cried Potts. 

( I am sure of it," replied the reeve. 

" I will not be deterred from the performance of my duty," 
said Potts. " I defy the devil and all his works." 

" You may have reason to repent your temerity," replied the 
reeve. 

And anxious, apparently, to avoid further conversation on the 
subject, he drew in the rein for a moment, and allowed the 
attorney to pass on. 

Notwithstanding his boasting, Master Potts was not without 
much secret misgiving ; but his constitutional obstinacy made him 
determine to prosecute his plans at any risk, and he comforted 
himself by recalling the opinion of his sovereign authority 011 
such matters. 

" Let me ponder over the exact words of our British Solomon," 
he thought. e6 I have his learned treatise by heart, and it is 
fortunate my memory serves me so well, for the sagacious prince's 
dictum will fortify me in my resolution, which has been somewhat 
shaken by this fellow, whom I believe to be no better than he 
should be, for all he calls himself my father's son, and hath 
assumed my likeness, doubtless for some mischievous purpose. 
' If the magistrate,' saith the King, f be slothful towards 
witches, God is very able to make them instruments to waken 
and punish his sloth.' No one can accuse me of slothfulness and 
want of zeal. My best exertions have been used against the 
accursed creatures. And now for the rest. ' But if, on the con 
trary, he be diligent in examining and punishing them, God will 
not permit their master to trouble or hinder so good a work ! ' 
Exactly what I have done. I am quite easy now, and shall go 
on fearlessly as before. I am one of the ' lawful lieutenants' 
described by the King, and cannot be < defrauded or deprived' of 
my office." 

As these thoughts passed through the attorney's mind a low 
derisive laugh sounded in his ears, and, connecting it with the 
reeve, he looked back and found the object of his suspicions 
gazing at him, and chuckling maliciously. So fiendishly malig 
nant, indeed, was the gaze fixed upon him, that Potts was glad 
to turn his head away to avoid it. 

" I am confirmed in my suspicions," he thought; "he is evidently 
a wizard, if he be not " 

Again the mocking laugh sounded in his ears, but he did not 
venture to look round this time, being fearful of once more encoun 
tering the terrible gaze. 

Meanwhile the party had traversed the valley, and to avoid a 



234 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

dangerous morass stretching across its lower extremity, and 
shorten the distance for the ordinary road would have led them 
too much to the right they began to climb one of the ridges of 
Pendle Hill, which lay between them and the vale they wished 
to gain. On obtaining the top of this eminence, an extensive view 
on either side opened upon them. Behind was the sterile valley they 
had just crossed, its black soil, hoary grass, and heathy wastes, 
only enlivened at one end by patches of bright sulphur-coloured 
moss, which masked a treacherous quagmire lurking benea'th it. 
Some of the cottages in Sabden were visible, and, from the sad 
circumstances connected with them, and which oppressed the 
thoughts of the beholders, added to the dreary character of the 
prospect. The day, too, had lost its previous splendour, and 
there were clouds overhead which cast deep shadows on the 
ground. But on the crest of Pendle Hill, which rose above them, 
a sun-burst fell, and attracted attention from its brilliant contrast 
to the prevailing gloom. Before them lay a deep gully, the 
sinuosities of which could be traced from the elevated position 
where they stood, though its termination was hidden by other 
projecting ridges. Further on, the sides of the mountain were 
bare and rugged, and covered with shelving stone. Beyond the 
defile before mentioned, and over the last mountain ridge, lay a 
wide valley, bounded on the further side by the hills overlooking 
Colne, and the mountain defile, now laid open to the travellers, 
exhibiting in the midst of the dark heathy ranges, which were its 
distinguishing features, some marks of cultivation. In parts it 
was inclosed and divided into paddocks by stone walls, and here 
and there a few cottages were collected together, dignified, as in 
the case of Sabden, by the name of a village. Amongst these 
were the Hey-houses, an assemblage of small stone tenements, the 
earliest that arose in the forest ; Goldshaw Booth, now a populous 
place, and even then the largest hamlet in the district ; and in 
the distance Ogden and Barley, the two latter scarcely comprising 
a dozen habitations, and those little better than huts. In some 
sheltered nook on the hill-side might be discerned the solitary 
cottage of a cowherd, and not far from it the certain accompani 
ment of a sheepfold. Throughout this weird region, thinly 
peopled it is true, but still of great extent, and apparently 
abandoned to the powers of darkness, only one edifice could be 
found where its inhabitants could meet to pray, and this was an 
ancient chapel at Goldshaw Booth, originally erected in the reign 
of Henry III., though subsequently in part rebuilt in 1544, and 
which, with its low grey tower peeping from out the trees, was 
just discernible. Two halls were in view ; one of which, Sabden , 
was of considerable antiquity, and gave its name to the village ; 
and the other was Hoarstones, a much more recently erected 
mansion, strikingly situated on an acclivity of Pendle Hill. In 
general, the upper parts of this mountain monarch of the waste 



THE REEVE OP THE FOREST. 235 

were bare and heathy, while the heights overhanging Ogden and 
Barley were rocky, shelving, and precipitous ; but the lower ridges 
were well covered with wood, and a thicket, once forming part of 
the ancieut forest, ran far out into the plain near Goldshaw Booth. 
Numerous springs burst from the mountain side, and these 
collecting their forces, formed a considerable stream, which, under 
the name of Pendle Water, flowed through the valley above 
described, and, after many picturesque windings, entered the 
rugged glen in which Rough Lee was situated, and swept past 
the foot of Mistress Nutter's residence. 

Descending the hill, and passing through the thicket, the party 
came within a short distance of Groldshaw Booth, when they were 
met by a cowherd, who, with looks of great alarm, told them that 
John Law, the pedlar, had fallen down in a tit in the clough, and 
would perish if they did not stay to help him. As the poor man 
in question was well known both to Nicholas and Roger No well, 
they immediately agreed to go to his assistance, and accompanied 
the cowherd along a by-road which led through the clough to 
the village. They had not gone far when they heard loud groans, 
and presently afterwards found the unfortunate pedlar lying on 
his back, and writhing in agony. He was a large, powerfully- 
built man, of middle age, and had been in the full enjoyment of 
health and vigour, so that his sudden prostration was the more 
terrible. His face was greatly disfigured, the mouth and neck 
drawn awry, the left eye pulled down, and the whole power of the 
same side gone. 

fC Why, John, this is a bad business," cried Nicholas. " You have 
had a paralytic stroke, I fear." 

" Nali nah squoire," replied the sufferer, speaking with dif 
ficulty, " it's neaw nat'ral ailment it's witchcraft." 

" Witchcraft ! " exclaimed Potts, who had come up, and 
producing his memorandum book. " Another case. Your name 
and description, friend ?" 

<( John Law o' Gown, pedlar," replied the man. 

" John Law of Colne, I suppose, petty chapman," said Potts, 
making an entry. " Now, John, my good man, be pleased to 
tell us by whom you have been bewitched?" 

" By Mother Demdike," groaned the man. 

" Mother Demdike, ah?" exclaimed Potts, "good! very good. 
Now, John, as to the cause of your quarrel with the old hag?" 

" Ey con scarcely rekillect it, my head be so confused, rnester," 
replied the pedlar. 

61 Make an effort, John," persisted Potts; rt it is most desirable 
such a dreadful offender should not escape justice." 

" Weel, weel, ey'n try an tell it then," replied the pedlar. 
" Yo mun knoa ey wur crossing the hill fro' Gown to Rough Lee, 
wi' my pack upon my shouthers, when who should ey meet boh 
Mother Demdike, an hoo axt ine to gi' her some scithers an pins, 



236 THE LANCASHIRE W1TCUE8. 

boh, os ill luck wad ha' it, ey refused. c Yo had better do it, 
John/ hoo said, * or yo'll rue it efore to-morrow neet.' Ey 
laughed at her, an trudged on, boh when I looked back, an seed 
her shakin' her skinny hond at me, ey repented and thowt ey 
would go back, an gi' her the choice o' my wares. Boh my pride 
wur too strong, an ey walked on to Barley an Ogden, an slept at 
Bess's o th' Booth, an woke this mornin' stout and strong, fully 
persuaded th' owd witch's threat would come to nowt. Alack-a- 
day ! ey wur out i' my reckoning fo' scarcely had ey reached this 
kloof, o' my way to Sabden, than ey wur seized wi' a sudden 
shock, os if a thunder-bowt had hit me, an ey lost the use o' my 
lower limbs, an t' laft soide, an should ha' deed most likely, if it 
hadna bin fo' Ebil o' Jem's o' Dan's who spied me out, an brought 
me help." 

6e Yours is a deplorable case indeed, John," said Richard 
" especially if it be the result of witchcraft." 

" You do not surely doubt that it is so, Master Richard ? " 
cried Potts. 

st I offer no opinion," replied the young man ; " but a paralytic 
stroke would produce the same effect. But, instead of discussing 
the matter, the best thing we can do will be to transport the poor 
man to Bess's o' th' Booth, where he can be attended to." 

u Torn and I can carry him there, if Abel will take charge of 
his pack," said one of the grooms. 

" That I win," replied the cowherd, unstrapping the box, 
upon which the sufferer's head rested, and placing it on his own 
shoulders. 

Meanwhile, a gate having been taken from its hinges by 
Sparshot and the reeve, the poor pedlar, who groaned deeply 
during the operation, was placed upon it by the men, and borne 
towards the village, followed by the others, leading their horses. 

Great consternation was occasioned in Goldshaw Booth by the 
entrance of the cavalcade, and still more, when it became known 
that John Law, the pedlar, who was a favourite with all, had had 
a frightful seizure. Old and young flocked forth to see him, and 
the former shook their heads, while the latter were appalled at 
the hideous sight. Master Potts took care to tell them that the 
poor fellow was bewitched by Mother Demdike ; but the infor 
mation failed to produce the effect he anticipated, and served 
rather to repress than heighten their sympathy for the sufferer. 
The attorney concluded, and justly, that they were afraid of 
incurring the displeasure of the vindictive old hag by an open 
expression of interest in his fate. So strongly did this feeling 
operate, that after bestowing a glance of commiseration at the 
pedlar, most of them returned, without a word, to their dwell 
ings. 

On their way to the little hostel, whither they were conveying 
the poor pedlar, the party passed the church, and the sexton, 



THE REEVE OP THE FOREST. 237 

who was digging a grave in the yard, came forward to look at 
them; but on seeing John Law he seemed to understand what 
had happened, and resumed his employment. A wide-spreading 
yew-tree grew in this part of the churchyard, and near it stood 
a small cross rudely carved in granite, marking the spot where, in 
the reign of Henry VI., Ralph Cliderhow, tenth abbot of 
\Vhalley, held a meeting of the tenantry, to check encroach 
ments. Not far from this ancient cross the sexton, a hale old 
man, with a fresh complexion and silvery hair, was at work, and 
while the others went on, Master Potts paused to say a word 
to him. 

(t You have a funeral here to-day, I suppose, Master Sexton?" 
he said. 

" Yeigh," replied the man, gruffly. 

" One of the villagers?" inquired the attorney. 

" Neaw ; hoo were na o' Goldshey," replied the sexton. 

" Where then who was it ? " persevered Potts. 

The sexton seemed disinclined to answer ; but at length said, 
" Meary Baldwyn, the miller's dowter o' Rough Lee, os protty 
a lass os ever yo see, mester. Hoo wur the apple o' her feyther's 
ee, an he hasna had a dry ee sin hoo deed. Wall-a-dey ! we mun 
aw go, owd an young owd an young an protty Meary Baldwyn 
went young enough. Poor lass ! poor lass !" and he brushed the 
dew from his eyes with his brawny hand. 

" Was her death sudden?" asked Potts. 

cc Neaw, not so sudden, mester," replied the sexton. " Ruchot 
Baldwyn had fair warnin'. Six months ago Meary wur ta'en ill, 
an fro' t' furst he knoad how it wad eend." 

st How so, friend ? " asked Potts, whose curiosity began to be 
aroused. 

66 Becose " replied the sexton, and he stopped suddenly 
short. 

"She was bewitched ?" suggested Potts. 

The sexton nodded his head, and began to ply his mattock 
vigorously. 

" By Mother Demdike ? " inquired Potts, taking out his memo 
randum book. 

The sexton again nodded his head, but spake no word, and, 
meeting some obstruction in the ground, took up his pick to 
remove it. 

" Another case !" muttered Potts, making an entry. " Mary 
Bald wy ri, daughter of Richard Baldwyn of Rough Lee, aged 
How old was she, sexton ? " 

" Throtteen," replied the man ; " boh dunna ax me ony more 
questions, mester. Th' berrin takes place i' an hour, an ey hanna 
half digg'd th' grave." 

" Your own name, Master Sexton, and 1 have done?" said 
Potts, 



238 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Zachariah Worms," answered the man. 

" Worms ha ! an excellent name for a sexton," cried Potts. 
" You provide food for your family, eh, Zachariah ?" 

" Tut tut," rejoined the sexton, testily, " go an' moind yer 
own bus'ness, mon, an' leave me to moind mine." 

u Very well, Zachariah," replied Potts. And having obtained 
all he required, he proceeded to the little hostel, where, finding 
the rest of the party had dismounted, he consigned Flint to a 
cowherd, and entered the house. 



CHAPTER V. BESS'S O' TH' BOOTH. 

BESS'S o' TH' BOOTH for so the little hostel at Goldshaw was 
called, after its mistress Bess Whitaker was far more comfort 
able and commodious than its unpretending exterior seemed to 
warrant. Stouter and brighter ale was not to be drunk in Lan 
cashire than Bess brewed ; nor was better sherris or clary to be 
found, go where you would, than in her cellars. The traveller 
crossing those dreary wastes, and riding from Burnley to Clithero, 
or from Colne to Whalley, as the case might be, might well halt 
at Bess's, and be sure of a roast fowl for dinner, with the addi 
tion, perhaps, of some trout from Pendle Water, or, if the season 
permitted, a heath-cock or a pheasant ; or, if he tarried there for 
the night, he was equally sure of a good supper and fair linen. 
It has already been mentioned, that at this period it was the 
custom of all classes in the northern counties, men and women, 
to resort to the alehouses to drink, and the hostel at Goldshaw 
was the general rendezvous of the neighbourhood. For those 
who could afford it Bess would brew incomparable sack ; but if a 
guest called for wine, and she liked not his looks, she would flatly 
tell him her ale was good enough for him, and if it pleased him 
not he should have nothing. Submission always followed in such 
cases, for there was no disputing with Bess. Neither would she 
permit the frequenters of the hostel to sit later than she chose, 
and would clear the house in a way equally characteristic and 
effectual. At a certain hour, and that by no means a late one, 
she would take down a large horsewhip, which hung on a conve 
nient peg in the principal room, and after bluntly ordering her 
guests to go home, if any resistance were offered, she would lay 
the whip across their shoulders, and forcibly eject them from the 
premises ; but, as her determined character was well known, this 
violence was seldom necessary. In strength Bess was a match 
for any man, and assistance from her cowherds for she was a 
farmer as well as hostess was at hand if required. As will be 
surmised from the above, Bess was large and masculine-looking, 
but well-proportioned nevertheless, and possessed a certain coarse 



BESS'S O'.TH' BOOTH. 239 

kind of beauty, which in earlier years had inflamed Richard 
Baldwyn, the miller of Rough Lee, who made overtures of mar 
riage to her. These were favourably entertained, but a slight 
quarrel occurring between them, the lover, in her own phrase, 
got " his jacket soundly dusted " by her, and declared off, taking 
to wife a more docile and light- handed maiden. As to Bess, 
though she had given this unmistakable proof of her ability to 
manage a husband, she did not receive a second offer, nor, as she 
had now attained the mature age of forty, did it seem likely she 
would ever receive one. 

Bess's o' th' Booth was an extremely clean and comfortable 
house. The floor, it is true, was of hard clay, and the windows 
little more than narrow slits, with heavy stone frames, further 
darkened by minute diamond panes ; but the benches were scrupu 
lously clean, and so was the long oak table in the centre of the 
principal and only large room in the house. A roundabout fire 
place occupied one end of the chamber, sheltered from the draught 
of the door by a dark oak screen, with a bench on the warm side 
of it ; and here, or in the deep ingle-nooks, on winter nights, the 
neighbours would sit and chat by the blazing hearth, discussing 
pots of " nappy ale, good and stale," as the old ballad hath it ; 
and as persons of both sexes came thither, young as well as old, 
many a match was struck up by Bess's cheery fireside. From 
the blackened rafters hung a goodly supply of hams, sides of bacon, 
and dried tongues, with a profusion of oatcakes in a bread-flake; 
while, in case this store should he exhausted, means of replenish 
ment were at hand in the huge, full-crammed meal-chest standing 
in one corner. Altogether, there was a look of abundance as well 
as of comfort about the place. 

Great was Bess's consternation when the poor pedlar, who had 
quitted her house little more than an hour ago, full of health and 
spirits, was brought back to it in such a deplorable condition ; 
and when she saw him deposited at her door, notwithstanding her 
masculine character, she had some difficulty in repressing a scream. 
She did not, however, yield to the weakness, but seeing at once 
what was best to be done, caused him to be transported by the 
grooms to the chamber he had occupied over-night, and laid upon 
the bed. Medical assistance was fortunately at hand; for it 
chanced that Master Sudall, the chirurgeon of Coin e, was in the 
house at the time, having been brought to Goldshaw by the great 
sickness that prevailed at Sabden and elsewhere in the neighbour 
hood. Sudall was immediately in attendance upon the sufferer, 
and bled him copiously, after which the poor man seemed much 
easier ; and Richard Assheton, taking the chirurgeon aside, asked 
his opinion of the case, and was told by Sudall that he did not 
think the pedlar's life in danger, but he doubted whether he would 
<=,ver recover the use of his limbs. 



240 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

"You do not attribute the attack to witchcraft, I suppose, 
Master Stidall?" said Richard. 

" I do not like to deliver an opinion, sir," replied the chirur- 
geon. " It is impossible to decide, when all the appearances are 
precisely like those of an ordinary attack of paralysis. But a sad 
case has recently come under my observation, as to which I can 
have no doubt I mean as to its being the result of witchcraft 
but 1 will tell you more about it presently, for I must now return 
to my patient." 

It being agreed among the party to rest for an hour at the little 
hostel, and partake of some refreshment, Nicholas went to look 
after the horses, while Roger Nowell and Richard remained in 
the room with the pedlar. Bess Whitaker owned an extensive 
farm-yard, provided with cow-houses, stables, and a large barn ; 
and it was to the latter place that the two grooms proposed to 
repair with Sparshot and play a game at loggats on the clay floor. 
No one knew what had become of the reeve ; for, on depositing 
the poor pedlar at the door of the hostel, he had mounted his 
horse and ridden away. Having ordered some fried eggs and 
bacon, Nicholas wended his way to the stable, while Bess, 
assisted by a stout kitchen wench, busied herself in preparing 
the eatables, and it was at this juncture that Master Potts entered 
the house. 

Bess eyed him narrowly, and was by no means prepossessed by 
his looks, while the muddy condition of his habiliments did not 
tend to exalt him in her opinion. 

" Yo mey yersel a' whoam, mon, ey mun say,'* she observed, 
as the attorney seated himself on the bench beside her. 

" To be sure," rejoined Potts ; (i where should a man make 
himself at home, if not at an inn ? Those eggs and bacon look 
very tempting. I'll try some presently ; and, as soon as you've 
done with the frying-pan, Til have a pottle of sack." 

" Neaw, yo winna," replied Bess. " Yo'n get riother eggs nor 
bacon nor sack here, ey can promise ye. Ele an whoat-kekes 
mun sarve your turn. Gro to t' barn wi' t' other grooms, and play 
at kittle-pins or nine-holes wi' hin, an ey'n send ye some ele." 

u I'm quite comfortable where I am, thank you, hostess," replied 
Potts, " and have no desire to play at kittle-pins or nine-holes. 
But what does this bottle contain?" 

" Sherris," replied Bess. 

" Sherris !" echoed Potts, " and yet you say I can have no sack. 
Get me some sugar and eggs, and I'll show you how to brew the 
drink. I was taught the art by my friend, Ben Jonson rare 
Ben ha, ha!" 

" Set the bottle down," cried Bess, angrily. 

" What do you mean, woman?" said Potts, staring at her iu 
surprise. " I told you to fetch sugar and eggs, and I now repeat 
the order sugar, and halt-a-dozen eggs at least," 



241 

" Ar 37 repeat my order to yo," cried Bess, " to set the bottle 
down, cr e/st raay ye." 

" Make me I ha, ha ! I like that," cried Potts. ^ " Let me tell 
you, woman, I am not accustomed to be ordered in this way. I 
shall do no such thing. If you will not bring the eggs I shall 
drink the wine, neat and unsophisticate." And he filled a flagon 
near him. 

" If yo dun, yo shan pay dearly for it," said Bess, putting aside 
the frying-pan and taking down the horsewhip. 

" I daresay I shall," replied Potts merrily ; " you hostesses 
generally do make one pay dearly. Very good sherris this, i' 
faith ! the true nutty flavour. Now do go and fetch me some 
eggs, my good woman. You must have plenty, with all the 
poultry I saw in the farm-yard; and then I'll teach you the 
whole art and mystery of brewing sack." 

"Ey'n teach yo to dispute my orders," cried Bess. And, 
catching the attorney by the collar, she began to belabour him 
soundly with the whip. 

"Holloa! ho! what's the meaning of this?" cried Potts, 
struggling to get free. " Assault and battery ; ho ! " 

" Ey'n sawt an batter yo, ay, an baste yo too!" replied Bess, 
continuing to lay on the whip. 

u Why, zounds ! this passes a joke," cried the attorney. ts How 
desperately strong she is ! I shall be murdered I Help ! help ! 
The woman must be a witch." 

" A witch ! Ey'n teach yo' to ca* me feaw names," cried the 
enraged hostess, laying on with greater fury. 

"Help! help!" roared Potts. 

At this moment Nicholas returned from the stables, and, seeing 
how matters stood, flew to the attorney's assistance. 

" Come, come, Bess," he cried, laying hold of her arm, " you've 
given him enough. What has Master Potts been about ? Not 
insulting you, I hope ? " 

" Neaw, eyM tak keare he didna do that, squoire," replied the 
hostess. " Ey towd him he'd get nowt boh ele here, an' he made 
free wi't wine bottle, so ey brought down t' whip jist to teach him 
manners." 

"You teach me! you ignorant and insolent hussy," cried 
Potts, furiously ; " do you think I'm to be taught manners by an 
overgrown Lancashire witch like you ? I'll teach you what it is 
to assault a gentleman. I'll prefer an instant complaint against 
you to my singular good friend and client, Master Roger, who 
is in your house, and you'll soon find whom you've got to deal 
with" 

" Marry kem eawt !" exclaimed Bess; " who con it bel Ey 
took yo fo' one o't grooms, mon." 

a Fire and fury!" exclaimed Potts; " this is intolerable. Master 
Nowell shall let you know who I am, woman." 



242 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

u Nay, I'll tell you, Bess," interposed Nicholas, laughing. " This 
little gentleman is a London lawyer, who is going to Rough Lee 
on business with Master Roger No well. Unluckily, he got pitched 
into a quagmire in Read Park, and that is the reason why his 
countenance and habiliments have got begrimed." 

" Eigh ! ey thowt he wur i' a strawnge fettle," replied Bess ; 
" an so he be a lawyer fro' Lunnon, eh ? Weel," she added, 
laughing, and displaying two ranges of very white teeth, u he'll 
remember Bess Whitaker, t' next time he comes to Pendle 
Forest." 

" And she'll remember me," rejoined Potts. 

" Neaw more sawce, mon," cried Bess, " or ey'n raddle thy 
boans again." 

" No you won't, woman," cried Potts, snatching up his horsewhip, 
which he had dropped in the previous scuffle, and brandishing it 
fiercely. " I dare you to touch me." 

Nicholas was obliged once more to interfere, and as he passed 
his arms round the hostess's waist, he thought a kiss might tend 
to bring matters to a peaceable issue, so he took one. 

(e Ha' done wi' ye, squoire," cried Bess, who, however, did not 
look very seriously offended by the liberty. 

" By my faith, your lips are so sweet that I must have another," 
cried Nicholas. " I tell you what, Bess, you're the finest woman 
in Lancashire, and you owe it to the county to get married." 

"Whoy so?" said Bess. 

" Because it would be a pity to lose the breed," replied 
Nicholas. "What say you to Master Potts there? Will he 
suit you?" 

" He pooh ! Do you think ey'd put up wi' sich powsement 
os he ! Neaw; when Bess Whitaker, the lonleydey o' Goldshey, 
weds, it shan be to a mon, and nah to a ninny-hommer." 

" Bravely resolved, Bess," cried Nicholas. " You deserve 
another kiss for your spirit." 

" Ha' done, ey say," cried Bess, dealing him a gentle tap that 
sounded very much like a buffet. " See how yon jobberknow is 
grinning at ye." 

"Jobberknow and ninny-hammer," cried Potts, furiously; 
" really, woman, I cannot permit such names to be applied ta 
me." 

(i Os yo please, boh ey'st gi' ye nah better," rejoined the 
hostess. 

" Come, Bess, a truce to this," observed Nicholas ; " the eggs 
and bacon are spoiling, and I'm dying with hunger. There 
there," he added, clapping her on the shoulder, "set the dish 
before us, that's a good soul a couple of plates, some oatcakes 
and butter, and we shall do." 

And while Bess attended to these requirements, he observed, 
" This sudden seizure of poor John Law is a bad business." 



BESS'S o' TH' BOOTH. 243 

" ' Deed on it is, squoire," replied Bess, " ey wur quite glopp'nt 
at sect on him. Lorjus o' me ! whoy, it's scarcely an hour sin he 
left here, looking os strong an os 'earty os yersel. Boh it's a 
kazzardly onsartin loife we lead. Here to-day an gone the mor 
row, as Parson Houlden says. Wall-a-day P' 

" True, true, Bess," replied the squire, and the best plar 
therefore is, to make the most of the passing moment. So brew 
us each a lusty pottle of sack, and fry us some more eggs and 
bacon." 

And while the hostess proceeded to prepare the sack, Potts 
remarked to Nicholas, " I have got another case of witchcraft, 
squire. Mary Baldwyn, the miller's daughter, of Rough Lee." 

" Indeed !" exclaimed Nicholas. " What, is the poor girl 
bewitched?" 

" Bewitched to death that's all," said Potts. 
f( Eigh poor Meary ! hoo's to be berried here this mornin," 
observed Bess, emptying the bottle of sherris into a pot, and placing 
the latter on the fire. 

" And you think she was forespoken?" said Nicholas, address 
ing her. 

" Folk sayn so," replied Bess ; " boh Fd leyther howd my tung 
about it." 

" Then I suppose you pay tribute to Mother Chattox, hostess ? " 
cried Potts, " butter, eggs, and milk from the farm, ale and wine 
from the cellar, with a flitch of bacon now and then, ey I" 

" Nay, by th' maskins ! ey gi' her nowt," cried Bess. 

" Then you bribe Mother Demdike, and that comes to the same 
thing," said Potts. 

" Weel, yo're neaw so fur fro' t' mark this time," replied Bess, 
adding eggs, sugar, and spice to the now boiling wine, and stirring 
up the compound. 

" I wonder where your brother, the reeve of the forest, can be, 
Master Potts !" observed Nicholas. "I did not see either him or 
hia horse at the stables." 

(( Perhaps the arch impostor has taken himself off altogether," 
said Potts ; " and if so, I shall be sorry, for I have not done with 
him." 

The sack was now set before them, and pronounced excellent, 
and while they were engaged in discussing it, together with a 
fresh supply of eggs and bacon, fried by the kitchen wench, Roger 
No well came out of the inner room, accompanied by Richard and 
the chirurgeon. 

i( Well, Master Sudall, how goes on your patient ? " inquired 
Nicholas of the latter. 

" Much more favourably than I expected, squire," replied the 
chirurgeon. " He will be better left alone for awhile, and, as I 
shall not quit the village till evening, I shall be able to look well 
alter him." 



244 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

u You think the attack occasioned by witchcraft of course, sir?" 
gaid Potts. 

" The poor fellow affirms it to be so, but I can give no opinion," 
replied Sudall, evasively. 

" You must make up your mind as to the matter, for I think it 
right to tell you your evidence will be required," said Potts. 
" Perhaps, you may have seen poor Mary Baldwyn, the miller's 
daughter of Rough Lee, and can speak more positively as to, her 





case. 



" I can, sir," replied the chirurgeon, seating himself beside Potts, 
while Roger No well and Richard placed themselves on the op 
posite side of the table. " This is the case I referred to a short 
time ago, when answering your inquiries on the same subject, 
Master Richard, and a most afflicting one it is. But you shall 
have the particulars. Six months ago, Mary Baldwyn was as 
lovely and blooming a lass as could be seen, the joy of her wi 
dowed father's heart. A hot-headed, obstinate man is Richard 
Baldwyn, and he was unwise enough to incur the displeasure of 
Mother Demdike, by favouring her rival, old Chattox, to whom 
he gave flour and meal, while he refused the same tribute to the 
other. The first time Mother Demdike was dismissed without the 
customary dole, one of his millstones broke, and, instead of taking 
this as a warning, he became more obstinate. She came a second 
time, and he sent her away with curses. Then all his flour grew 
damp and musty, and no one would buy it. Still he remained 
obstinate, and, when she appeared again, he would have laid hands 
upon her. But she raised her staff, and the blows fell short. ( I 
have given thee two warnings, Richard,' she said, * and thou hast 
paid no heed to them. Now I will make thee smart, lad, in right 
earnest. That which thou lovest best thou shalt lose.' Upon this, 
bethinking him that the dearest thing he had in the world was his 
daughter Mary, and afraid of harm happening to her, Richard 
would fain have made up his quarrel with the old witch; but it had 
now gone too far, and she would not listen to him, but uttering 
some words, with which the name of the girl was mingled, shook 
her staff at the house and departed. The next day poor Mary 
was taken ill, and her father, in despair, applied to old Chattox, 
who promised him help, and did her best, I make no doubt for 
she would have willingly thwarted her rival, and robbed her of her 
prey ; but the latter was too strong for her, and the hapless victim 
got daily worse and worse. Her blooming cheek grew white and 
hollow, her dark eyes glistened with unnatural lustre, and she was 
seen no more on the banks of Pendle water. Before this my aid 
had been called in by the afflicted father and I did all I could 
but I knew she would die and I told him so. The information 
I feared had killed him, for he fell down like a stone and I re 
pented having spoken. However he recovered, and made a last 
appeal to Mother Demdike; but the unrelenting hag derided him 



BESS'S 0' TH' BOOTH. 245 

and cursed him, teJ ang him if he brought her all his mill contained, 
and added to that all his substance, she would not spare his child. 
He returned heart-broken, and never quitted the poor girl's bed 
side till she breathed her last." 

" Poor Ruchot ! Robb'd o' his ownly dowter an neaw woifc 
to cheer him ! Ey pity him fro' t' bottom o' my heart," said Besa, 
whose tears had flowed freely during the narration. 

" He is wellnigh crazed with grief," said the chirurgeon. " I 
hope he will commit no rash act." 

Expressions of deep commiseration for the untimely death of 
the miller's daughter had been uttered by all the party, and they 
were talking over the strange circumstances attending it, when 
they were roused by the trampling of horses' feet at the door, and 
the moment after, a middle-aged man, clad in deep mourning, but 
put on in a manner that betrayed the disorder of his mind, entered 
the house. His looks were wild and frenzied, his cheeks haggard, 
and he rushed into the room so abruptly that he did not at first 
observe the company assembled. 

" Why, Richard Baldwyn, is that you ? " cried the chirurgeon. 

"What! is this the father?" exclaimed Potts, taking out his 
memorandum-book; "I must prepare to interrogate him." 

u Sit thee down, Ruchot, sit thee down, mon," said Bess, taking 
his hand kindly, and leading him to a bench. u Con ey get thee 
onny thing?" 

" Neaw neaw, Bess," replied the miller ; " ey ha lost aw ey 
vallied i' this warlt, an ey care na how soon ey quit it mysel." 

" Neigh, dunna talk on thus, Ruchot," said Bess, in accents of 
sincere sympathy. " Theaw win live to see happier an brighter 
days." 

" Ey win live to be revenged, Bess," cried the miller, rising sud 
denly, and stamping his foot on the ground, " that accursed 
witch has robbed me o' my 'eart's chief treasure hoo has crushed 
a poor innocent os never injured her i' thowt or deed an has struck 
the heaviest blow that could be dealt me; but by the heaven above 
us ey win requite her ! A feyther's deep an lasting curse leet 
on her guilty heoad, an on those of aw her accursed race. Nah rest, 
neet nor day, win ey know, till ey ha brought em to the stake." 

u Right right my good friend an excellent resolution 
bring them to the stake ! " cried Potts. 

But his enthusiasm was suddenly checked by observing the 
reeve of the forest peeping from behind the wainscot, and earnestly 
regarding the miller, and he called the attention of the latter to 
him. 

Richard Baldwyn mechanically followed the expressive gestures 
of the attorney, but he saw no one, for the reeve had disappearedw 

The incident passed unnoticed by the others, who had been 
too deeply moved by poor Baldwyn's outburst of grief to pay 
attention to it. 



246 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

After a little while Bess Whitaker succeeded in prevailing upon 
the miller to sit down, and when he became more composed he 
told her that the funeral procession, consisting of some of his 
neighbours who had undertaken to attend his ill-fated daughter 
to her last home, was coming from Rough Lee to Goldshaw, but 
that, unable to bear them company, he had ridden on by himself. 
It appeared also, from his muttered threats, that he had medi 
tated some wild project of vengeance against Mother Demdike, 
which he intended to put into execution before the day was over; 
but Master Potts endeavoured to dissuade him from this course, 
assuring him that the most certain and efficacious mode of re 
venge he could adopt would be through the medium of the law, 
and that he would give him his best advice and assistance in the 
matter. While they were talking thus, the bell began to toll, 
and every stroke seemed to vibrate through the heart of the afflict 
ed father, who was at last so overpowered by grief, that the hostess 
deemed it expedient to lead him into an inner room, where he 
might indulge his sorrow unobserved. 

Without awaiting the issue of this painful scene, Richard, who 
was much affected by it, went forth, and taking his horse from the 
stable, with the intention of riding on slowly before the others, 
led the animal towards the churchyard. When within a short 
distance of the grey old fabric he paused. The bell continued to 
toll mournfully, and deepened the melancholy hue of his thoughts. 
The sad tale he had heard held possession of his mind, and while 
he pitied poor Mary Baldwyn, he began to entertain apprehensions 
that Alizon might meet a similar fate. So many strange circum 
stances had taken place during the morning's ride; he had listened 
to so many dismal relations, that, coupled with the dark and 
mysterious events of the previous night, he was quite bewildered, 
and felt oppressed as if by a hideous nightmare, which it was 
impossible to shake off. He thought of Mothers Demdike and 
Chattox. Could these dread beings be permitted to exercise 
such baneful influence over mankind? With all the apparent 
proofs of their power he had received, he still strove to doubt, 
and to persuade himself that the various cases of witchcraft 
described to him were only held to be such by the timid and the 
credulous. 

Full of these meditations, he tied his horse to a tree and entered 
the churchyard, and while pursuing a path shaded by a row of 
young lime-trees leading to the porch, he perceived at a little 
distance from him, near the cross erected by Abbot Cliderhow, 
two persons who attracted his attention. One was the sexton, 
who was now deep in the grave ; and the other an old woman, 
with her back towards him. Neither had remarked his approach, 
and, influenced by an unaccountable feeling of curiosity, he stood 
still to watch their proceedings. Presently, the sexton, who was 
shovelling out the mould, paused in his task ; and the old woman. 



X 




RICHARD OVERHEARS CHATTOX AND THE SEXTON. 



P. 2 47 . 



BESS'S o' TH' BOOTH. 247 

in a hoarse voice, which seemed familiar to the listener, said, 
\Yhat hast found, Zachariah?" 

" That which yo lack, mother," replied the sexton, " a mazzard 
wi' aw th' teeth in't." 

" Pluck out eight, and give them me," replied the hag. 

And, as the sexton complied with her injunction, she added, 
" Now I must have three scalps." 

" Here they be, mother," replied Zachariah, uncovering a heap 
of mould with his spade. u Two brain-pans bleached loike snow, 
an the third wi' more hewr on it than ey ha' o' my own sconce. 
Fro' its size an shape ey should tak it to be a female. Ey ha' laid 
these three skulls aside fo' ye. Whot dun yo mean to do wi' 'em ?" 

" Question me not, Zachariah," said the hag, sternly ; (e now 
give me some pieces of the mouldering coffin, and fill this box with 
the dust of the corpse it contained." 

The sexton complied with her request. 

" Now yo ha' getten aw yo seek, mother," he said, " ey wad pray 
you to tay your departure, fo' the berrin folk win be here 
presently." 

" I'm going," replied the hag, "but first I must have my funeral 
rites performed ha ! ha I Bury this for me, Zachariah," she said, 
giving him a small clay figure. " Bury it deep, and as it moulders 
away, may she it represents pine and wither, till she come to the 
grave likewise !" 

" An whoam doth it represent, mother?" asked the sexton, 
regarding the image with curiosity. " Ey dunna knoa the feace ? " 

" How should you know it, fool, since you have never seen her 
in whose likeness it is made ? " replied the hag. " She is connected 
with the race I hate." 

" Wi' the Demdikes?" inquired the sexton. 

" Ay," replied the hag, " with the Demdikes. She passes for 
one of them but she is not of them. Nevertheless, I hate 
her as though she were." 

" Yo dunna mean Alizon Device ? " said the sexton. " Ey ha* 
heerd say hoo be varry comely an kind-hearted, an ey should be 
sorry onny harm befell her." 

" Mary Baldwyn, who will soon lie there, was quite as comely 
and kind-hearted as Alizon," cried the hag, " and yet Mother 
Demdike had no pity on her." 

"An that's true," replied the sexton. " Weel, weel; ey'n do 
your bidding." 

" Hold ! " exclaimed Richard, stepping forward. " I will not 
suffer this abomination to be practised." 

" Who is it speaks to me ?" cried the hag, turning round, and 
disclosing the hideous countenance of Mother Chattox. " The 
voice is that of Richard Assheton." 

" It is Richard Assheton who speaks," cried the young man, 
" and I command you to desist from this wickedness. Give me 



248 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

that clay image," he cried, snatching it from the sexton, and 
trampling it to dust beneath his feet. te Thus I destroy thy 
impious handiwork, and defeat thy evil intentions." 

" Ah ! think'st thou so, lad," rejoined Mother Chattox. " Thou 
wilt find thyself mistaken. My curse has already alighted upon 
thee, and it shall work. Thou lov'st Alizon. I know it. But 
she shall never be thine. Now, go thy ways." 

" I will go," replied Richard " but you shall come with me, 
old woman." 

" Dare you lay hands on me f " screamed the hag. 

" Nay, let her be, mester," interposed the sexton, "yo had better." 

" You are as bad as she is," said Richard, " and deserve equal 
punishment. You escaped yesterday at Whalley, old woman, but 
you shall not escape me now." 

" Be not too sure of that," cried the hag, disabling him for the 
moment, by a severe blow on the arm from her staff. And 
shuffling off with an agility which could scarcely have been 
expected from her, she passed through a gate near her, and 
disappeared behind a high wall. 

Richard would have followed, but he was detained by the sexton, 
who besought him, as he valued his life, not to interfere, and when 
at last he broke away from the old man, he could see nothing of 
her, and only heard the sound of horses' feet in the distance. 
Either his eyes deceived him, or at a turn in the woody lane 
skirting the church he descried the reeve of the forest galloping off 
with the old woman behind him. This lane led tow*ards Rough 
Lee, and, without a moment's hesitation, Richard flew to the spot 
where he had left his horse, and, mounting him, rode swiftly along it. 



CHAPTER VI THE TEMPTATION. 

SHORTLY after Richard's departure, a round, rosy-faced per 
sonage, whose rusty black cassock, hastily huddled over a dark 
riding-dress, proclaimed him a churchman, entered the hostel. 
This was the rector of Goldshaw, Parson Hold en, a very worthy 
little man, though rather, perhaps, too fond of the sports of the 
field and the bottle. To Roger Nowell and Nicholas Assheton he 
was of course well known, and was much esteemed by the latter, 
often riding over to hunt and fish, or carouse, at Downham. 
Parson Holden had been sent for by Bess to administer spiritual 
consolation to poor Richard Baldwyn, who she thought stood in 
need of it, and having respectfully saluted the magistrate, of whom 
he stood somewhat in awe, and shaken hands cordially with 
Nicholas, who was delighted to see him, he repaired to the inner 
room, promising to come back speedily. And he kept his word ; 
for in less than five minutes he reappeared with the satisfactory 



THE TEMPTATION. 249 

intelligence that the afflicted miller was considerably calmer* 
and had listened to his counsels with much edification. 

u Take him a glass of aquavitse, Bess," he said to the hostess. 
" He is evidently a cup too low, and will be the better for it. 
Strong water is a specific I always recommend under such cir 
cumstances, Master Sudall, and indeed adopt myself, and I am 
sure you will approve of it. Harkee, Bess, when you have 
ministered to poor Baldwyn's wants, I must crave your attention 
to my own, and beg you to fill me a tankard with your oldest ale, 
and toast me an oatcake to eat with it. I must keep up my 
spirits, worthy sir," he added to Roger Nowell, u for I have a 
painful duty to perform. I do not know when I have been more 
shocked than by the death of poor Mary Baldwyn. A fair flower, 
and early nipped." 

" Nipped, indeed, if all we have heard be correct, rejoined 
Nowell. " The forest is in a sad state, reverend sir. It would 
seem as if the enemy of mankind, by means of his abominable 
agents, were permitted to exercise uncontrolled dominion over it. 
I must needs say, the forlorn condition of the people reflects 
little credit on those who have them in charge. The powers of 
darkness could never have prevailed to such an extent if duly 
resisted." 

u I lament to hear you say so, good Master Nowell," replied 
the rector. u I have done my best, I assure you, to keep my 
small and widely-scattered flock together, and to save them from 
the ravening wolves and cunning foxes that infest the country ; 
and if now and then some sheep have gone astray, or a poor 
lamb, as in the instance of Mary Baldwyn, hath fallen a victim, 
1 am scarcely to blame for the mischance. Rather let me say, 
sir, that you, as an active and zealous magistrate, should take the 
matter in hand, and by severe dealing with the offenders, arrest 
the progress of the evil. No defence, spiritual or otherwise, as 
yet set up against them, has proved effectual." 

u Justly remarked, reverend sir," observed Potts, looking up 
from the memorandum book in which he was writing, u and I am 
sure your advice wih 1 not be lost upon Master Roger Mowell. 
As regards the persons who may be afflicted by witchcraft, hath 
not our sagacious monarch observed, that ' There are three kind 
of folks who may be tempted or troubled : the wicked for their 
horrible sins, to punish them in the like measure ; the godly that 
are sleeping in any great sins or infirmities, and weakness in 
faith, to waken them up the faster by such an uncouth form ; 
and even some of the best, that their patience may be tried 
before the world as Job's was tried. For why may not God use 
any kind of extraordinary punishment, when it pleases Him, as 
well as the ordinary rods of sickness, or other adversities ?'" 

" Very true, sir," replied Holden. " And we are undergoing 
this severe trial no\v Fortunate are they who profit by it !'" 



250 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Hear what is said further, sir, by the king," pursued Potts. 
" ( No man,' declares that wise prince, ' ought to presume so far 
as to promise any impunity to himself.' But further on he skives 
us courage, for he adds, ' and yet we ought not to be afraid for 
that, of any thing that the devil and his wicked instruments can 
do against us, for we daily fight against him in a hundred other 
ways, and therefore as a valiant captain affrays no more being at 
the combat, nor stays from his purpose for the rummishing sfrot 
of a cannon, nor the small clack of a pistolet ; not being certain 
what may light on him ; even so ought we boldly to go forward 
in fighting against the devil without any greater terror, for these 
his rarest weapons, than the ordinary, whereof we have daily 
the proof.' " 

(f His majesty is quite right," observed Holden, tf and I am 
glad to hear his convincing words so judiciously cited. I myself 
have no fear of these wicked instruments of Satan." 

u In what manner, may I ask, have you proved your courage, 
sir?" inquired Roger Nowell. " Have you preached against 
them, and denounced their wickedness, menacing them with the 
thunders of the Church?" 

" I cannot say I have," replied Holden, rather abashed, " but 
I shall henceforth adopt a very different course. Ah ! here 
comes the ale !" he added, taking the foaming tankard from Bess ; 
u this is the best cordial wherewith to sustain one's courage in 
these trying times." 

" Some remedy must be found for this intolerable grievance," 
observed Roger Nowell, after a few moments' reflection. " Till 
this morning I was not aware of the extent of the evil, but sup 
posed that the two malignant hags, who seem to reign supreme 
here, confined their operations to blighting corn, maiming cattle, 
turning milk sour ; and even these reports I fancied were greatly 
exaggerated ; but I now find, from what I have seen at Sabden 
and elsewhere, that they fall very far short of the reality." 

" It would be difficult to increase the darkness of the picture," 
said the chirurgeon ; " but what remedy will you apply ?" 

"The cautery, sir," replied Potts, " the actual cautery we 
will burn out this plague-spot. The two old hags and their 
noxious brood shall be brought to the stake. That will effect a 
radical cure." 

" It may when it is accomplished, but I fear it will be long ere 
that happens," replied the chirurgeon, shaking his head doubt 
fully. " Are you acquainted with Mother Demdike's history, 
sir?" he added to Potts. 

"In part," replied the attorney; "but I shall be glad 
to hear any thing you may have to bring forward on the 
subject." 

" The peculiarity in her case," observed Sudall, " and the cir 
cumstance distinguishing her dark and dread career from that of 



THE TEMPTATION. 251 

all other witches is, that it has been shaped out by destiny. 
When an infant, a malediction was pronounced upon her head by 
the unfortunate Abbot Paslew. She is also the offspring of a 
man reputed to have bartered his soul to the Enemy of Mankind, 
while her mother was a witch. Both parents perished lamentably, 
about the time of Paslew's execution at Whalley." 

" It is a pity their miserable infant did not perish with them," 
observed Holden. " How much crime and misery would have 
been spared ! " 

t( It was otherwise ordained," replied Sudall. " Bereft of her 
parents in this way, the infant was taken charge of and reared by 
Dame Croft, the miller's wife of Whalley ; but even in those 
early days she exhibited such a malicious and vindictive dispo 
sition, and became so unmanageable, that the good dame was 
glad to get rid of her, and sent her into the forest, where she 
found a home at Rough Lee, then occupied by Miles Nutter, the 
grandfather of the late Richard Nutter." 

" Aha ! " exclaimed Potts, " was Mother Demdike so early 
connected with that family ? I must make a note of that cir 
cumstance." 

" She remained at Rough Lee for some years," returned Su 
dall, " and though accounted of an ill disposition, there was 
nothing to be alleged against her at the time ; though afterwards, 
it was said, that some mishaps that befell the neighbours were 
owing to her agency, and that she was always attended by a 
familiar in the form of a rat or a mole. Whether this were so 
or not, I cannot say ; but it is certain that she helped Miles 
Nutter to get rid of his wife, and procured him a second spouse, 
in return for which services he bestowed upon her an old ruined 
tower on his domains." 

" You mean Malkin Tower?" said Nicholas. 

ft Ay, Malkin Tower," replied the chirurgeon. tf There is a 
legend connected with that structure, which I will relate to you 
anon, if you desire it. But to proceed. Scarcely had Bess 
Demdike taken up her abode in this lone tower, than it began to 
be rumoured that she was a witch, and attended sabbaths on the 
summit of Pen die Hill, and on Rimington Moor. Few would 
consort with her, and ill-luck invariably attended those with 
whom she quarrelled. Though of hideous and forbidding aspect, 
and with one eye lower set than the other, she had subtlety 
enough to induce a young man named Sothernes to marry her, and 
two children, a son and a daughter, were the fruit of the union." 
" The daughter I have seen at Whalley," observed Potts ; "but 
I have never encountered the son." 

" Christopher Demdike still lives, I believe," replied the chi 
rurgeon, " though what has become of him 1 know not, for he 
has quitted these parts. He is as ill-reputed as his mother, and 
has the same strange and fearful look about the eyes." 



252 TliE LANCASHIRE WITCHED. 

"I shall recognise him if I see him," observed Potis. 

" You are scarcely likely to meet him," returned Sudall, " for, 
as I have said, he has left the forest. But to return to my story. 
The marriage state was little suitable to Bess Demdike, and in 
five years she contrived to free herself from her husband's restraint, 
and ruled alone in the tower. Her malignant influence now 
began to be felt throughout the whole district, and by dint of 
menaces and positive acts of mischief, she extorted aji she 
required. Whosoever refused her requests speedily experienced 
her resentment. When she was in the fulness of her power, a 
rival sprang up in the person of Anne Whittle, since known by 
the name of Chattox, which she obtained in marriage, and this 
woman disputed Bess Demdike' s supremacy. Each strove to 
injure the adherents of her rival and terrible was the mischief 
they wrought. In the end, however, Mother Demdike got the 
upper hand. Years have flown over the old hag's head, and her 
guilty career has been hitherto attended with impunity. Plans 
have been formed to bring her to justice, but they have ever 
failed. And so in the case of old Chattox. Her career has been 
as baneful and as successful as that of Mother Demdike." 

" But their course is wellnigh run," said Potts, te and the time 
is come for the extirpation of the old serpents." 

" Ah ! who is that at the window ? " cried Sudall ; " but that 
you are sitting near me, I should declare you were looking 



in at us. 



" It must be Master Potts' s brother, the reeve of the forest," 
observed Nicholas, with a laugh. 

" Heed him not," cried the attorney, angrily, " but let us have 
the promised legend of Malkin Tower." 

" Willingly !" replied the chirurgeon. " But before I begin I 
must recruit myself with a can of ale." 

The flagon being set before him, Sudall commenced his story : 

<% IftjBiA nf 3&alkm -tattr. 

" On the brow of a high hill forming part of the range of 
Pendle, and commanding an extensive view over the forest, and 
the wild and mountainous region around it, stands a stern solitary 
tower. Old as the Anglo-Saxons, and built as a stronghold by 
Wulstan, a Northumbrian thane, in the time of Edmund or Edred, 
it is circular in form and very lofty, and serves as a landmark to 
the country round. Placed high up in the building the door was 
formerly reached by a steep flight of stone steps, but these were 
removed some fifty or sixty years ago by Mother Demdike, and 
a ladder capable of being raised or let down at pleasure substi 
tuted for them, affording the only apparent means of entrance. 
The tower is otherwise inaccessible, the walls being of immense 
thickness, with no window lower than five-and-twenty feet from 



THE TEMPTATION. 253 

the ground, though it is thought there must be a secret outlet; 
for the old witch, when she wants to come forth, does not wait 
for the ladder to be let down. But this may be otherwise ex 
plained. Internally there are three floors, the lowest being 
placed on a level with the door, and this is the apartment chiefly 
occupied by the hag. In the centre of this room is a trapdoor 
opening upon a deep vault, whioh forms the basement story of 
the structure, and which was once used as a dungeon, but is now 
tenanted, it is said, by a fiend, who can be summoned by the 
witch on stamping her foot. Round the room runs a gallery 
contrived in the thickness of the walls, while the upper chambers 
are gained by a secret staircase, and clo8ed by movable stones, 
the machinery of which is only known to the inmate of the tower. 
All the rooms are lighted by narrow loopholes. Thus you will 
see that the fortress is still capable of sustaining a siege, and old 
Derndike has been heard to declare that she would hold it for a 
month against a hundred men. Hitherto it has proved impreg 
nable.- 

" On the Norman invasion, Malkin Tower was held by Ughtred r 
a descendant of Wulstan, who kept possession of Pendle Forest 
and the hills around it, and successfully resisted the aggressions 
of the conquerors. His enemies affirmed he was assisted by a 
demon, whom he had propitiated by some fearful sacrifice made 
in the tower, and the notion seemed borne out by the success 
uniformly attending his conflicts. Ughtred's prowess was stained 
by cruelty and rapine. Merciless in the treatment of his captives, 
putting them to death by horrible tortures, or immuring them in 
the dark and noisome dungeon of his tower, he would hold his revels 
over their heads, and deride their groans. Heaps of treasure,, 
obtained by pillage, were secured by him in the tower. From his 
frequent acts of treachery, and the many foul murders he perpe 
trated, Ughtred was styled the ' Scourge of the Normans.' For 
along period he enjoyed complete immunity from punishment; 
but after the siege of York, and the defeat of the insurgents, his 
destruction was vowed by Ilbert de Lacy, lord of Black burn shire, 
and this fierce chieftain set fire to part of the forest in which the 
Saxon thane and his followers were concealed ; drove them to 
Malkin Tower ; took it after an obstinate and prolonged defence, 
and considerable loss to himself, and put them all to the sword, 
except the leader, whom he hanged from the top of his own for 
tress. In the dungeon were found many carcasses, and the greater 
part of Ughtred's treasure served to enrich the victor. 

" Once again, in .the reign ot Henry VI., Malkin Tower became 
a robber's stronghold, and gave protection to a freebooter named 
Blackburn, who, witn. a band of daring and desperate marauders,, 
took advantage of the troubled state of the country, ravaged it 
far and wide, and committed unheard of atrocities, even levying 
contributions upon the Abbeys of Whalley and Salley, and the 



254 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

heads of these religious establishments were glad to make term 
with him to save their herds and stores, the rather that all at 
tempts to dislodge him from his mountain fastness, and destroy 
his band, had failed. Blackburn seemed to enjoy the same kind 
of protection as Ughtred, and practised the same atrocities, tor 
turing and imprisoning his captives unless they were heavily 
ransomed. He also led a life of wildest licence, and, when not 
engaged in some predatory exploit, spent his time in carpusing 
with his followers. 

" Upon one occasion it chanced that he made a visit in disguise 
to Whalley Abbey, and, passing the little hermitage near the 
church, beheld the votaress who tenanted it. This was Isole de 
Heton. Ravished by her wondrous beauty, Blackburn soon 
found an opportunity of making his passion known to her, and his 
handsome though fierce lineaments pleasing her, he did not long 
sigh in vain. He frequently visited her in the garb of a Cister- 
tian monk, and, being taken for one of the brethren, his conduct 
brought great scandal upon the Abbey. The abandoned votaress 
bore him a daughter, and the infant was conveyed away by the 
lover, and placed under the care of a peasant's wife, at Barrow- 
ford. From that child sprung Bess Blackburn, the mother of old 
Demdike ; so that the witch is a direct descendant of Isole de 
Heton. 

" Notwithstanding all precautions, Isole's dark offence became 
known, and she would have paid the penalty of it at the stake, if 
she had not fled. In scaling Whalley Nab, in the wuody heights 
of which she was to remain concealed till her lover could come 
to her, she fell from a rock, shattering her limbs, and disfiguring her 
features. Some say she was lamed for life, and became as hideous 
as she had heretofore been lovely ; but this is erroneous, for ap 
prehensive of such a result, attended by the loss of her lover, she 
invoked the powers of darkness, and proffered her soul in return 
for five years of unimpaired beauty. 

s< The compact was made, and when Blackburn came he found 
her more beautiful than ever. Enraptured, he conveyed her to 
Malkin Tower, and lived with her there in security, laughing to 
scorn the menaces of Abbot Eccles, by whom he was excommuni 
cated. 

" Time went on, and as Isole's charms underwent no change, 
her lover's ardour continued unabated. Five years passed in 
guilty pleasures, and the last day of the allotted term arrived. 
No change was manifest in Isole's demeanour ; neither remorse 
nor fear were exhibited by her. Never had she appeared more 
lovely, never in higher or more exuberant spirits. She besought 
her lover, who was still madly intoxicated by her infernal charms, 
to give a banquet that night to ten of his trustiest followers. He 
willingly assented, and bade them to the feast. They ate and 
drank merrily, and the gayest of the company was the lovely 



THE TEMPTATION. 255 

Lsoie. Her spirits seemed somewhat too wild even to Blackburn, 
but he did not check her, though surprised at the excessive live 
liness and freedom of her sallies. Her eyes flashed like fire, and 
there was not a man present but was madly in love with her, 
and ready to dispute for her smiles with his captain. 

"The wine flowed freely, and song and jest went on till mid 
night. When the hour struck, Isole filled a cup to the brim, and 
called upon them to pledge her. All arose, and drained their 
goblets enthusiastically. ' It was a farewell cup,' she said ; ' I 
am going away with one of you.' ' How !' exclaimed Blackburn, 
in angry surprise. ' Let any one but touch your hand, and I will 
strike him dead at my feet.' The rest of the company regarded 
each other with surprise, and it was then discovered that a stran 
ger was amongst them ; a tall dark man, whose looks were so 
terrible and demoniacal that no one dared lay hands upon him. 
' I am come,' he said, with fearful significance, to Isole. 6 And I 
am ready,' she answered boldly. 6 1 will go with you were it to 
the bottomless pit,' cried Blackburn catching hold of her. < It is 
thither I am going,' she answered with a scream of laughter. 
' I shall be glad of a companion.' 

" When the paroxysm of laughter was over, she fell down on 
the floor. Her lover would have raised her, when what was his 
horror to find that he held in his arms an old woman, with fright 
fully disfigured features, and evidently in the agonies of death. 
She fixed one look upon him and expired. 

" Terrified by the occurrence the guests hurried away, and 
when they returned next day, they found Blackburn stretched on 
the floor, and quite dead. They cast his body, together with 
that of the wretched Isole, into the vault beneath the room where 
they were lying, and then, taking possession of his treasure, 
removed to some other retreat. 

" Thenceforth, Malkin Tower became haunted. Though 
wholly deserted, lights were constantly seen shining from it at 
night, and sounds of wild revelry, succeeded by shrieks and 
groans, issued from it. The figure of Isole was often seen to come 
forth, and flit across the wastes in the direction of Whalley Abbey. 
On stormy nights a huge black cat, with flaming eyes, was 
frequently descried on the summit of the structure, whence it 
obtained its name of Grimalkin, or Malkin Tower. The 
ill-omened pile ultimately came into the possession of the Nutter 
family, but it was never tenanted, until assigned, as I have 
already mentioned, to Mother Demdike." 



The chirurgeon's marvellous story was listened to with great 
attention by his auditors. Most of them were familiar with 
different versions of it ; but to Master Potts it was altogether new, 
and he made rapid notes of it, questioning the narrator as to one 



256 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

or two points which appeared to him to require explanation. 
Nicholas, as may be supposed, was particularly interested in that 
part of the legend which referred to Isole de Heton. He now for 
the first time heard of her unhallowed intercourse with the 
freebooter Blackburn, of her compact on Whalley Nab with the 
fiend, of her mysterious connection with Malkin Tower, and of 
her being the ancestress of Mother Demdike. The consideration 
of all these points, coupled with a vivid recollection of his own 
strange adventure with the impious votaress at the Abbey oil the 
previous night, plunged him into a deep train of thought, and he 
began seriously to consider whether he might not have committed 
gome heinous sin, and, indeed, jeopardised his soul's welfare by 
dancing with her. " What if I should share the same fate as the 
robber Blackburn," he ruminated, te and be dragged to perdition 
by her ? It is a very awful reflection. But though my fate 
might operate as a warning to others, I am by no means anxious 
to be held up as a moral scarecrow. Rather let me take warning 
myself, amend my life, abandon intemperance, which leads to all 
manner of wickedness, and suffer myself no more to be ensnared 
by the wiles and delusions of the tempter in the form of a fair 
woman. No no I will alter and amend my life." 

I regret, however, to say that these praiseworthy resolutions 
were but transient, and that the squire, quite forgetting that the 
work of reform, if intended to be really accomplished, ought to 
commence at once, and by no means be postponed till the 
morrow, yielded to the seductions of a fresh pottle of sack, which 
was presented to him at the moment by Bess, and in taking it 
could not help squeezing the hand of the bouncing hostess, and 
gazing at her more tenderly than became a married man. Oh ! 
Nicholas Nicholas the work of reform, I am afraid, proceeds 
very slowly and imperfectly with you. Your friend, Parson 
Dewhurst, would have told you that it is much easier to form 
good resolutions than to keep them. 

Leaving the squire, however, to his cogitations and his sack, 
the attorney to his memorandum-book, in which he was still 
engaged in writing, and the others to their talk, we shall proceed 
to the chamber whither the poor miller had been led by Bess. 
When visited by the rector, he had been apparently soothed by 
the worthy man's consolatory advice, but when left alone he 
speedily relapsed into his former dark and gloomy state of mind. 
He did not notice Bess, who, according to Holden's directions, 
placed the aquavitae bottle before him, but, as long as she stayed, 
remained with his face buried in his hands. As soon as she was 
gone he arose, and began to pace the room to and fro. The 
window was open, and he could hear the funeral bell tolling 
mournfully at intervals. Each recurrence of the dismal sound 
added sharpness and intensity to his griefl His sufferings became 
almost intolerable, and drove him to the very verge of despair 



THE TEMPTATION. 257 

and madness. If a weapon had been at hand, he might have seized 
it, and put a sudden period to his existence. His breast was a 
chaos of fierce and troubled thoughts, in which one black and 
terrible idea arose and overpowered all the rest. It was the 
desire of vengeance, deep and complete, upon her whom he looked 
upon as the murderess of his child. He cared not how it were 
accomplished so it were done; but such was the opinion he 
entertained of the old hag's power, that he doubted his ability to 
the task. Still, as the bell tolled on, the furies at his heart 
lashed and goaded him on, and yelled in his ear revenge 
revenge ! Now, indeed, he was crazed with grief and rage ; he 
tore off handfuls of hair, plunged his nails deeply into his breast, 
and while committing these and other wild excesses, with frantic 
imprecations he called down Heaven's judgments on his own 
head. He was in that lost and helpless state when the enemy of 
mankind has power over man. Nor was the opportunity 
neglected ; for when the wretched Baldwyn, who, exhausted by 
the violence of his motions, had leaned for a moment against the 
wall, he perceived to his surprise that there was a man in the 
room a small personage attired in rusty black, whom he thought 
had been one of the party in the adjoining chamber. 

There was an expression of mockery about this person's coun 
tenance which did not please the miller, and he asked him, 
sternly, what he wanted. 

" Leave off grinnin, mon," he said, fiercely, " or ey may be 
tempted to tay yo be t' throttle, an may yo laugh o't wrong side 
o' your mouth." 

u No, no, you will not, Richard Baldwyn, when you know my 
errand," replied the man. " You are thirsting for vengeance 
upon Mother Demdike. You shall have it." 

(l Eigh, eigh, you promised me vengeance efore," cried the 
miller u vengeance by the law. Boh ey mun wait lung for it. 
Ey wad ha' it swift and sure deep and deadly. Ey wad blast 
her wi' curses, os hoo blasted my poor Meary. Ey wad strike 
her deeod at my feet. That's my vengeance, inon." 

" You shall have it," replied the other. 

" Yo talk differently fro' what yo did just now, mon," said the 
miller, regarding him narrowly and distrustfully. " An yo look 
differently too. There's a queer glimmer abowt your een that ey 
didna notice efore, and that ey mislike." 

The man laughed bitterly. 

" Leave oft grinnin' or begone," cried Baldwyn, furiously. 
And he raised his hand to strike the man, but he instantly 
dropped it, appalled by a look which the other threw at him. 
" Who theduleareyo?" 

" The dule must answer you, since you appeal to him," replied 
the other, with the same mocking smile ; " but you are mistaken 
in supposing that you have spoken to me before. He with whom 

8 



258 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

you conversed in the other room, resembles me in more 
respects than one, but he does not possess power equal to mine. 
The law will not aid you against Mother Demdike. She will 
escape all the snares laid for her. But she will not escape me." 

" Who are ye ? " cried the miller, his hair erecting on his head, 
and cold damps breaking out upon his brow. " Yo are nah mortal, 
an nah good, to tawk i' this fashion." 

" Heed not who and what I am," replied the other ; " I am Jmown 
here as a reeve of the forest that is enough. Would you have 
vengeance on the murtheress of your child ? " 

" Yeigh," rejoined Baldwyn. 

te And you are willing to pay for it at the price of your soul I " 
demanded the other, advancing towards him. 

Baldwyn reeled. He saw at once the fearful peril in which he 
was placed, and averted his gaze from the scorching glance of the 
reeve. 

At this moment the door was tried without, and the voice of 
Bess was heard, saying, " Who ha' yo got wi' yo, Ruchot ; and 
whoy ha* yo fastened t' door ? " 

" Your answer I " demanded the reeve. 

" Ey canna gi' it now," replied the miller. " Come in, Bess ; 
come in." 

" Ey conna," she replied. " Open t* door, mon." 

" Your answer, I say ? " said the reeve. 

" Gi' me an hour to think on't," said the miller. 

" Agreed," replied the other. (e I will be with you after the 
funeral." 

And he sprang through the window, and disappeared before 
Baldwyn could open the door and admit Bess. 



CHAPTER VIL THE PERAMBULATION OF THE 
BOUNDARIES. 

THE lane along which Richard Assheton galloped in pursuit 
of Mother Chattox, made so many turns, and was, moreover, so 
completely hemmed in by high banks and hedges, that he could 
see nothing on either side of him, and very little in advance; but, 
guided by the clatter of hoofs, he urged Merlin to his utmost 
speed, fancying he should soon come up with the fugitives. In 
this, however, he was deceived. The sound that had led him on 
became fainter and fainter, till at last it died away altogether; 
and on quitting the lane and gaining the moor, where the view 
was wholly uninterrupted, no traces either of witch or reeve could 
be discerned. 

With a feeling of angry disappointment, Richard was about to 
turn back, when a large black greyhound came from out an ad- 



THE PERAMBULATION OF THE BOUNDARIES. 259 

joining clough, and made towards him. The singularity of the 
circumstance induced him to halt and regard the dog with 
attention. On nearing him, the animal looked wistfully in his 
face, and seemed to invite him to follow; and the young man was 
so struck by the dog's manner, that he complied, and had not 
gone far when a hare of unusual size and grey with age bounded 
from beneath a gorse-bush and speeded away, the greyhound 



starting in pursuit. 



Aware of the prevailing notion, that a witch most commonly 
assumed such a form when desirous of escaping, or performing 
some act of mischief, such as drying the milk of kine, Richard at 
once came to the conclusion that the hare could be no other than 
Mother Chattox ; and without pausing to inquire what the hound 
could be, or why it should appear at such a singular and appa 
rently fortunate juncture, he at once joined the run, and cheered 
on the dog with whoop and holloa. 

Old as it was, apparently, the hare ran with extraordinary 
swiftness, clearing every stone wall and other impediment in the 
way, and more than once cunningly doubling upon its pursuers. 
But every feint and stratagem were defeated by the fleet and 
sagacious hound, and the hunted animal at length took to the 
open waste, where the run became so rapid, that Richard had 
enough to do to keep up with it, though Merlin, almost as furi 
ously excited as his master, strained every sinew to the task. 

In this way the chasers and the chased scoured the dark and 
heathy plain, skirting moss-pool and clearing dyke, till they 
almost reached the but-end of Pendle Hill, which rose like an 
impassable barrier before them. Hitherto the chances had 
seemed in favour of the hare ; but they now began to turn, and 
as it seemed certain she must fall into the hound's jaws, Richard 
expected every moment to find her resume her natural form. 
The run having brought him within a quarter of a mile of Barley, 
the rude hovels composing which little booth were clearly dis 
cernible, the young man began to think the hag's dwelling must 
be among them, and that she was hurrying thither as to a place 
of refuge. But before this could be accomplished, he hoped to 
effect her capture, and once more cheered on the hound, and 
plunged his spurs into Merlin's sides. An obstacle, however, 
occurred which he had not counted on. Directly in the course 
taken by the hare lay a deep, disused limestone quarry, com 
pletely screened from view by a fringe of brushwood. When 
within a few yards of this pit, the hound made a dash at the 
flying hare, but eluding him, the latter sprang forward, and both 
went over the edge of the quarry together. Richard had well- 
nigh followed, and in that case would have been inevitably dashed 
in pieces ; but, discovering the danger ere it was too late, by a 
powerful effort, which threw Merlin upon his haunches, he pulled 
back on the very brink of the pit. 



260 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

The young man shuddered as he gazed into the depths of the 
quarry, and saw the jagged points and heaps of broken stone that 
would have received him; but he looked in vain for the old witch, 
whose mangled body, together with that of the hound, he ex 
pected to behold ; and he then asked himself whether the chase 
might not have been a snare set for him by the hag and her 
familiar, with the intent of luring him to destruction. If so, he 
had been providentially preserved. ^ 

Quitting the pit, his first idea was to proceed to Barley, which 
was now only a few hundred yards off, to make inquiries respect 
ing Mother Chattox, and ascertain whether she really dwelt there; 
but, on further consideration, he judged it best to return without 
further delay to Goldshaw, lest his friends, ignorant as to what 
had befallen him, might become alarmed on his account ; but he 
resolved, as soon as he had disposed of the business in hand, to 
prosecute his search after the hag. Riding rapidly, he soon 
cleared the ground between the quarry and Goldshaw Lane, and 
was about to enter the latter, when the sound of voices singing 
a funeral hymn caught his ear, and, pausing to listen to it, he 
beheld a little procession, the meaning of which he readily com 
prehended, wending its slow and melancholy way in the same 
direction as himself. It was headed by four men in deep mourn 
ing, bearing upon their shoulders a small coffin, covered with a 
pall, and having a garland of white flowers in front of it. Behind 
them followed about a dozen young men and maidens, likewise in 
mourning, walking two and two, with gait and aspect of unfeigned 
affliction. Many of the women, though merely rustics, seemed 
to possess considerable personal attraction; but their features 
were in a great measure concealed by their large white kerchiefs, 
disposed in the form of hoods. All carried sprigs of rosemary 
and bunches of flowers in their hands. Plaintive was the hymn 
they sang, and their voices, though untaught, were sweet and 
touching, and went to the heart of the listener. 

Much moved, Richard suffered the funeral procession to pre 
cede him along the deep and devious lane, and as it winded 
beneath the hedges, the sight was inexpressibly affecting. Fast 
ening his horse to a tree at the end of the lane, Richard followed 
on foot. Notice of the approach of the train having been given 
in the village, all the inhabitants flocked forth to meet it, and 
there was scarcely a dry eye among them. Arrived within a 
short distance of the church, the coffin was met by the minister, 
attended by the clerk, behind whom came Roger Nowell, Nicholas, 
and the re&t of the company from the hostel. With great diffi 
culty poor Baldwyn could be brought to take his place as chief 
mourner. These arrangements completed, the body of the ill- 
fated girl was borne into the churchyard, the minister reading 
the solemn texts appointed for the occasion, and leading the way 
t.) the grave, beside which stood the sexton, together with the 



THE PERAMBULATION OF THE BOUNDARIES. 261 

beadle of Goldshaw and Sparshot. The coffin was then laid on 
trestles, and amidst profound silence, broken only by the sobs of 
the mourners, the service was read, and preparations made for 
lowering the body into the grave. 

Then it was that poor Baldwyn, with a wild, heart-piercing 
cry, flung himself upon the shell containing all that remained of 
his lost reasure, and could with difficulty be removed from it by 
Bess and Sudall, both of whom were in attendance. The bunches 
of flowers and sprigs of rosemary having been laid upon the coffin 
by the maidens, amidst loud sobbing and audibly expressed lamen 
tations from the bystanders, it was let down into the grave, and 
earth thrown over it. 

Earth to earth ; ashes to ashes ; dust to dust. 

The ceremony was over, the mourners betook themselves to the 
little hostel, and the spectators slowly dispersed; but the bereaved 
father still lingered, unable to tear himself away. Leaning for 
support against the yew-tree, he fiercely bade Bess, who would 
have led him home with her, begone. The kind-hearted hostess 
complied in appearance, but remained nigh at hand though con 
cealed from view. 

Once more the dark cloud overshadowed the spirit of the 
wretched man once more the same infernal desire of vengeance 
possessed him once more he subjected himself to temptation. 
Striding to the foot of the grave he raised his hand, and with ter 
rible imprecations vowed to lay the murtheress of his child as low 
as she herself was now laid. At that moment he felt an eye like 
a burning-glass fixed upon him, and, looking up, beheld the reeve 
of the forest standing on the further side of the grave. 

" Kneel down, and swear to be mine, and your wish shall be 
gratified," said the reeve. 

Beside himself with grief and rage, Baldwyn wpuld have com 
plied, but he was arrested by a powerful grasp. Fearing he was 
about to commit some rash act, Bess rushed forward and caught 
hold of his doublet. 

" Bethink thee whot theaw has just heerd fro' t' minister, 
Ruchot," she cried in a voice of solemn warning. " ' Blessed are 
the dead that dee i' the Lord, for they rest fro their labours.' An 
again, * Suffer us not at our last hour, for onny pains o' death, to 
fa' fro thee/ Oh Ruchot, dear ! fo' the love theaw hadst fb' thy 
poor chilt, who is now delivert fro' the burthen o' th' flesh, an' 
dwellin' i' joy an felicity wi' God an his angels, dunna endanger 
thy precious sowl. Pray that theaw may'st depart hence i' th' 
Lord, wi' whom are the sowls of the faithful, an Meary's, ey trust, 
among the number. Pray that thy eend may be like hers." 

^ Ey conna pray, Bess," replied the miller, striking his breast. 
rt The Lord has turned his feace fro* me." 

" Becose thy heart is hardened, Kuchot," she replied. "Theaw 



262 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

'rt nourishin nowt boh black an wicked thowts. Cast em off ye, 
I adjure thee, an come whoam wi me." 

Meanwhile, the reeve had sprung across the grave. 

rt Thy answer at once," he said, grasping the miller's arm, and 
breathing the words in his ears. " Vengeance is in thy power. 
A word, and it is thine." 

The miller groaned bitterly. He was sorely tempted. 

" What is that mon sayin* to thee, Ruchot f " inquired Bess. 

" Dunna ax, boh tak me away," he answered. " Ey am lost 
else." 

" Let him lay a finger on yo if he dare," said Bess, sturdily. 

rt Leave him alone yo dunna knoa who he is," whispered the 
miller. 

" Ey con partly guess," she rejoined ; " boh ey care nother fo' 
mon nor dule when ey'm acting reetly. Come along wi' me, 
Kuchot." 

" Fool !" cried the reeve, in the same low tone as before ; " you 
will lose your revenge, but you will not escape me." 

And he turned away, while Bess almost carried the trembling 
and enfeebled miller towards the hostel. 

Roger Nowell and his friends had only waited the conclusion 
of the funeral to set forth, and their horses being in readiness, they 
mounted them on leaving the churchy ard, and rode slowly along the 
lane leading towards Rough Lee. The melancholy scene they had 
witnessed, and the afflicting circumstances connected with it, had 
painfully affected the party, and little conversation occurred until 
they were overtaken by Parson Holden, who, having been made 
acquainted with their errand by Nicholas, was desirous of accom 
panying them. Soon after this, also, the reeve of the forest joined 
them, and on seeing him, Richard sternly demanded why he had 
aided Mother Chattox in her flight from the churchyard, and what 
had become of her. 

" You are entirely mistaken, sir," replied the reeve, with affected 
astonishment. u I have seen nothing whatever of the old hag, 
and would rather lend a hand to her capture than abet her flight. 
I hold all witches in abhorrence, and Mother Chattox especially 
so." 

" Your horse looks fresh enough, certainly," said Richard, some 
what shaken in his suspicions. " Where have you been during 
our stay at Goldshaw ? You did not put up at the hostel ? " 

" I went to Farmer Johnson's," replied the reeve, " and you will 
find upon inquiry that my horse has not been out of his stables for 
the last hour. I myself have been loitering about Bess's grange 
and farmyard, as your grooms will testify, for they have seen me." 

" Humph !" exclaimed Richard, " I suppose 1 must credit asser 
tions made with such confidence, but I could have sworn I saw 
you ride off with the hag behind you.* 



THE PERAMBULATION OP THE BOUNDARIES. 263 

(t I hope I shall never be caught in such bad company, sir," 
replied the reeve, with a laugh. " If I ride off with any one, it 
shall not be with an old witch, depend upon it." 

Though by no means satisfied with the explanation, Richard 
was forced to be content with it ; but he thought he would ad 
dress a few more questions to the reeve. 

" Have you any knowledge," he said, u when the boundaries of 
Pendle Forest were first settled and appointed?" 

" The first perambulation was made by Henry de Lacy, about 
the middle of the twelfth century," replied the reeve. " Pendle 
Forest, you may be aware, sir, is one of the four divisions of the 
great forest of Blackburnshire, of which the Lacys were lords, 
the three other divisions being Accrington, Trawden, and Ros- 
sendale, and it comprehends an extent of about twenty-five miles, 
part of which you have traversed to-day. At a later period, 
namely in 1311, after the death of another Henry de Lacy, Earl 
of Lincoln, the last of his line, and one of the bravest of Edward 
the First's barons, an inquisition was held in the forest, and it 
was subdivided into eleven vaccaries, one of which is the place to 
which you are bound, Rough Lee." 

" The learned Sir Edward Coke defines a vaccary to signify a 
dairy," observed Potts. 

" Here it means the farm and land as well," replied the reeve ; 
u and the word ' booth,' which is in general use in this district, sig 
nifies the mansion erected upon such vaccary : Mistress Nutter's 
residence, for instance, being nothing more than the booth of 
Rough Lee : while a i lawnd,' another local term, is a park inclosed 
within the forest for the preservation of the deer, and the con 
venience of the chase, and of such inclosures we have two, namely, 
the Old and New Lawnd. By a commission in the reign of Henry 
VTL, these vaccaries, originally granted only to tenants at will, 
were converted into copyholds of inheritance, but and here is a 
legal point for your consideration, Master Potts as it seems very 
questionable whether titles obtained under letters-patent are se 
cure, not unreasonable fears are entertained by the holders of the 
lands lest they should be seized, and appropriated by the crown." 

" Ah ! ah I an excellent idea, Master Reeve," exclaimed Potts, 
his little eyes twinkling with pleasure. " Our gracious and saga 
cious monarch would grasp at the suggestion, ay, and grasp at the 
lands too ha ! ha ! Many thanks for the hint, good reeve. I 
will not fail to profit by it. If their titles are uncertain, the 
landholders would be glad to compromise the matter with the 
crown, even to the value of half their estates rather than lose the 
whole." 

" Most assuredly they would," replied the reeve ; " and further 
more, they would pay the lawyer well who could manage the 
matter adroitly for them. This would answer your purpose better 
than hunting up witches, Master Potts." 



THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

16 One pursuit does not interfere with the other in the slightest 
degree, worthy reeve," observed Potts. "I cannot consent to 
give up my quest of the witches. My honour is concerned in their 
extermination. But to turn to Pendle Forest the greater part of 
it has been disafforested, I presume?" 

" It has," replied the other " and we are now in one of the 
purlieus." 

" Pourallee is the better word, most excellent reeve," said 
Potts. " I tell you thus much, because you appear to be a man 
of learning. Man wood, our great authority in such matters, 
declares a pourallee to be ' a certain territory of ground adjoining 
unto the forest, mered and bounded with immovable marks, 
meres, and boundaries, known by matter of record only.' And as 
it applies to the perambulation we are about to make, I may as 
well repeat what the same learned writer further saith touching 
marks, meres, and boundaries, and how they may be known. 
* For although,' he saith, ( a forest doth lie open, and not inclosed 
with hedge, ditch, pale, or stone-wall, which some other inclosures 
have ; yet in the eye and consideration of the law, the same hath 
as strung an inclosure by those marks, meres, and boundaries, as 
if there were a brick wall to encircle the same.' Marks, learned 
reeve, are deemed unremovable primo, quia omnes metce forestce 
sunt integrce domino regi and those who take them away are 
punishable for the trespass at the assizes of the forest. Secundoj 
because the marks are things that cannot be stirred, as rivers, 
highways, hills, and the like. Now, such unremoveable marks, 
meres, and boundaries we have between the estate of my excellent 
client, Master Roger Nowell, and that of Mistress Nutter, so that 
the matter at issue will be easily decided." 

A singular smile crossed the reeve's countenance, but he made 
no observation. 

u Unless the lady can turn aside streams, remove hills, and pluck 
up huge trees, we shall win," pursued Potts, with a chuckle. 

Again the reeve smiled, but he forebore to speak. 

" You talk of marks, meres, and boundaries, Master Potts," 
remarked Richard. " Are not the words synonymous ? " 

u Not precisely so, sir," replied the attorney ; " there is a slight 
difference in their signification, which I will explain to you. The 
words of the statute are * metas, meras^ et bundasj now meta, or 
mark, is an object rising from the ground, as a church, a wall, or 
a tree ; mera, or mere, is the space or interval between the forest 
und the land adjoining, whereupon the mark may chance to stand ; 
and bunda is the boundary, lying on a level with the forest, as a 
river, a highway, a pool, or a bog." 

" I comprehend the distinction," replied Richard. " And now, 
as we are on this subject," he added to the reeve, " I would gladly 
know the precise nature of your office?" 

" My duty," replied die other, " i& to range daily throughout 



THE PERAMBULATION OF THE BOUNDARIES. 265 

all the purlieus, or pourallees, as Master Potts more properly 
terms them, and disafforested lands, and inquire into all 
trespasses and offences against vert or venison, and present them 
at the king's next court of attachment or swainmote. It is also 
my business to drive into the forest such wild beasts as have 
strayed from it; to attend to the la wing and expeditation of 
mastiffs ; and to raise hue and cry against any malefactors or 
trespassers within the forest." 

" I will give you the exact words of the statute/' said Potts 
* Si quis viderit male/adores infra metas forestce, debet illos capere 
secundam posse suum, et si non possit, debet levare hutesium et 
clamorem.' And the penalty for refusing to follow hue and cry is 
heavy fine." 

" I would that that part of your duty relating to the hock- 
sinewing, and la wing of mastiffs, could be discontinued," said 
Richard. st I grieve to see a noble animal so mutilated." 

<b In Rowland Forest, as you are probably aware, sir," rejoined 
the reeve, u only the larger mastiffs are lamed, a small stirrup or 
gauge being kept by the master forester, Squire Robert Parker 
of Browsholme, and the dog whose foot will pass through it 
escapes mutilation." 

" The practice is a cruel one, and I would it were abolished 
with some of our other barbarous forest laws," observed Richard. 

While this conversation had been going on, the party had pro 
ceeded well on their way. For some time the road, which con 
sisted of little more than tracts of wheels along the turf, led along 
a plain, thrown up into heathy hillocks, and then passing through 
a thicket, evidently part of the old forest, it brought them to the 
foot of a hill, which they mounted, and descended into another 
valley. Here they came upon Pendle Water, and while skirting 
its banks, could see at a great depth below, the river rushing over 
its rocky bed like an Alpine torrent. The scenery had now 
begun to assume a savage and sombre character. The deep rift 
through which the river ran was evidently the result of some 
terrible convulsion of the earth, and the rocky strata were 
strangely and fantastically displayed. On the further side the 
banks rose up precipitously, consisting for the most part of bare 
cliffs, though now and then a tree would root itself in some crevice 
Below this the stream sank over a wide shelf of rock, in a broad 
full cascade, and boiled and foamed in the stony basin that re 
ceived it, after which, grown less impetuous, it ran tranquilly on 
for a couple of hundred yards, and was then artificially restrained 
by a dam, which, diverting it in part from its course, caused it to 
turn the wheels of a mill. Here was the abode of the unfor 
tunate Richard Baldwyn, and here had blossomed forth the fair 
flower so untimely gathered. An air of gloom hung over this 
once cheerful spot : its very beauty contributing to this saddening 
effect. The mill-race flowed swiftly and brightly on; but the 



266 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

wheel was stopped, windows and doors were closed, and death 
kept his grim holiday undisturbed. No one was to be seen about 
the premises, nor was any sound heard except the bark of the 
lonely watch-dog. Many a sorrowing glance was cast at this for 
lorn habitation as the party rode past it, and many a sigh was 
heaved for the poor girl who had so lately been its pride and 
ornament; but if any one had noticed the bitter sneer curling 
the reeve's lip, or caught the malignant fire gleaming in his eye,, 
it would scarcely have been thought that he shared in the gerieral 
regret. 

After the cavalcade had passed the mill, one or two other cot 
tages appeared on the near side of the river, while the opposite 
banks began to be clothed with timber. The glen became more 
and more contracted, and a stone bridge crossed the stream, near 
which, and on the same side of the river as the party, stood a 
cluster of cottages constituting the little village of Rough Lee. 

On reaching the bridge, Mistress Nutter's habitation came in 
view, and it was pointed out by Nicholas to Potts, who contem 
plated it with much curiosity. In his eyes it seemed exactly 
adapted to its owner, and formed to hide dark and guilty deeds. 
It was a stern, sombre-looking mansion, built of a dark grey 
stone, with tall square chimneys, and windows with heavy 
mullions. High stone walls, hoary and moss-grown, ran round 
the gardens and courts, except on the side of the river, where 
there was a terrace overlooking the stream, and forming a pleasant 
summer's walk. At the back of the house were a few ancient 
oaks and sycamores, and in the gardens were some old clipped 
yews. 

Part of this ancient mansion is still standing, and retains much 
of its original character, though subdivided and tenanted by 
several humble families. The garden is cut up into paddocks, 
and the approach environed by a labyrinth of low stone walls, 
while miserable sheds and other buildings are appended to it ; the 
terrace is wholly obliterated; and the grange and offices are 
pulled down, but sufficient is still left of the place to give an idea 
of its pristine appearance and character. Its situation is striking 
and peculiar. In front rises a high hill, forming the last link of 
the chain of Pendle, and looking upon Barrowford and Colne, on 
the further side of which, and therefore not discernible from the 
mansion, stood Malkin Tower. At the period in question the 
lower part of this hill was well wooded, and washed by the Pendle 
Water, which swept past it through banks picturesque and 
beautiful, though not so bold and rocky as those in the neighbour 
hood of the mill. In the rear of the house the ground gradually 
rose for more than a quarter of a mile, when it obtained a 
considerable elevation. Following the course of the stream, and 
looking down the gorge, another hill appeared, so that the house 
was completely shut in by mountainous acclivities. In winter, 



THE PERAMBULATION OF THE BOUNDARIES. 267 

when the snow lay on the heights, or when the mists hung upon 
them for weeks together, or descended in continuous rain, Rough 
Lee was sufficiently desolate, and seemed cut off from all 
communication with the outer world ; but at the season when the 
party beheld it, though the approaches were rugged and difficult, 
and almost inaccessible except to the horseman or pedestrian, 
bidding defiance to any vehicle except of the strongest construction, 
still the place was not without a certain charm, mainly, however, 
derived from its seclusion. The scenery was stern and sombre, 
the hills were dark and dreary ; but the very wildness of the place 
was attractive, and the old house, with its grey walls, its lofty 
chimneys, its gardens with their clipped yews, and its rook-haunted 
trees, harmonised well with all around it. 

As the party drew near the house, the gates were thrown open 
by an old porter with two other servants, who besought them to 
stay and partake of some refreshment ; but Roger No well haughtily 
and peremptorily declined the invitation, and rode on, and the 
others, though some of them would fain have complied, followed 
him. 

Scarcely were they gone, than James Device, who had been in 
the garden, issued from the gate and speeded after them. 

Passing through a close at the back of the mansion, and 
tracking a short narrow lane, edged by stone walls, the party, 
which had received some accessions from the cottages of Rough 
Lee, as well as from the huts on the hill-side, again approached 
the river, and proceeded along its banks. 

The new-comers, being all of them tenants of Mrs. Nutter, and 
acting apparently under the directions of James Device, who had 
now joined the troop, stoutly and loudly maintained that the lady 
would be found right in the inquiry, with the exception of one old 
man named Henry Mitton ; and he shook his head gravely when 
appealed to by Jem, and could by no efforts be induced to join 
him in the clamour. 

Notwithstanding this demonstration, Roger Nowell and his 
legal adviser were both very sanguine as to the result of the 
survey being in their favour, and Master Potts turned to ascertain 
from Sparshot that the two plans, which had been rolled up and 
consigned to his custody, were quite safe. 

Meanwhile, the party having followed the course of Pendle 
Water through the glen for about half a mile, during which they 
kept close to the brawling current, entered a little thicket, and 
then striking off on the left, passed over the foot of a hill, and 
came to the edge of a wide moor, where a halt was called by 
NowelL 

It being now announced that they were on the confines of the 
disputed property, preparations were immediately made for the 
survey ; the plans were taken out of a quiver, in which they had 
been carefully deposited by Sparshot, and handed to Potts, who, 



268 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

giving one to Roger Nowell and the other to Nicholas, and 
opening his memorandum-book, declared that all was ready, and 
the two leaders rode slowly forward, while the rest of the troop 
followed, their curiosity being stimulated to the highest pitch. 

Presently Roger Nowell again stopped, and pointed to a woody 
brake. 

" We are now come," he said, " to a wood forming part of my 
property, and which from an eruption, caused by a spring, that 
took place in it many years ago, is called Burst Clough." 

" Exactly, sir exactly," cried Potts ; " Burst Clough I have 
it here landmarks, five grey stones, lying apart at a distance of 
one hundred yards or thereabouts, and giving you, sir, twenty 
acres of moor land. Is it not so, Master Nicholas ? The marks 
are such as I have described, eh f " 

" They are, sir," replied the squire ; " with this slight difference 
in the allotment of the land namely, that Mistress Nutter claims 
the twenty acres, while she assigns you only ten." 

" Ten devils !" cried Roger Nowell, furiously. " Twenty acre* 
are mine, and I will have them." 

"To the proof, then," rejoined Nicholas. " The first of the 
grey stones is here." 

" And the second on the left, in that hollow," said Roger Nowell. 
" Come on, my masters, come on." 

"Ay, come on!" cried Nicholas; "this perambulation will be 
rare sport. Who wins, for apiece of gold, cousin Richard?" 

" Nay, I will place no wager on the event," replied the young 
man. 

66 Well, as you please," cried the squire ; " but I would lay five 
to one that Mistress Nutter beats the magistrate." 

Meanwhile, the whole troop having set forward, they soon 
arrived at the second stone. Grey and moss-grown, it was deeply 
imbedded in the soil, and to all appearance had rested undisturbed 
for many a year. 

"You measure from the clough, I presume, sir?" remarked 
Potts to Nowell. 

" To be sure," replied the magistrate; " but how is this? This 
stone seems to me much nearer the clough than it used to be." 

" Yeigh, so it dun, mester," observed old Mitton. 

" It does not appear to have been disturbed, at all events," said 
Nicholas, dismounting and examining it. 

u It would seem not," said Nowell " and yet it certainly is not 
in its old place." 

" Yo are mistaen, mester," observed Jem Device; ft ey knoa th* 
lond weel, an this stoan has stood where it does fo' t' last twenty 
year. Ha'n't it, neeburs?" 

" Yeigh yeigh," responded several voices. 

" Well, let us go on to the next stone," said Potts, looking 
rather blank. 



THE PERAMBULATION OF THE BOUNDARIES. 26!) 

Accordingly they went forward, the hinds exchanging signifi 
cant looks, and Roger Nowell and Nicholas carefully examining 
their respective maps. 

" These landmarks exactly tally with my plan," said the squire, 
as they arrived at the third stone. 

" But not with mine," said Nowell ; " this stone ought to be 
two hundred yards to the right. Some trickery has been prac 
tised." 

" Impossible I" exclaimed the squire; " these ponderous masses 
could never have been moved. Besides, there are several persons 
here who know every inch of the ground, and will give you their 
unbiassed testimony. What say you, my men ? Are these the 
old boundary stones ?" 

All answered in the affirmative except old Mitton, who still 
raised a dissenting voice. 

u They be th* owd boundary marks, sure enough," he said; "boh 
they are neaw i' their owd places." 

" It is quite clear that the twenty acres belong to Mistress 
Nutter," observed Nicholas, te and that you must content yourself 
with ten, Master Nowell. Make an entry to that effect, Master 
Potts, unless you will have the ground measured." 

" No, it is needless," replied the magistrate, sharply ; <( let us 
go on." 

During this survey, some of the features of the country ap 
peared changed to the rustics, but how or in what way they could 
not precisely tell, and they were easily induced by James Device 
to give their testimony in Mistress Nutter's favour. 

A small rivulet was now reached, and another halt being called 
upon its sedgy banks, the plans were again consulted. 

" What have we here, Master Potts marks or boundaries l n 
inquired Richard, with a smile. 

" Both," replied Potts, angrily. " This rivulet, which I take to 
be Moss Brook, is a boundary, and that sheepfold and the two 
posts standing in a line with it are marks. But hold! how is this?" 
he cried, regarding the plan in dismay; "the five acres of waste 
land should be on the left of the brook." 

" It would doubtless suit Master Nowell better if it were so," 
said Nicholas; " but as they chance to be on the right, they belong 
to Mistress Nutter. I merely speak from the plan." 

" Your plan is naught, sir," cried Nowell, furiously, " By what 
foul practice these changes have been wrought I pretend not to 
say, though I can give a good guess ; but the audacious witch who 
has thus deluded me shall bitterly rue it." 

" Hold, hold, Master Nowell !" rejoined Nicholas; " I can make 
great allowance for your anger, which is natural considering your 
disappointment, but I will not permit such unwarrantable insinua 
tions to be thrown out against Mistress Nutter. You agreed to 
abide by Sir Ralph Asshe ton's* award, and you must not complain 



270 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

if it be made against you. Do you imagine that this stream can 
have changed its course in a single night ; or that yon sheepfold 
has been removed to the further side of it ?" 

" I do/' replied Nowell. 

" And so do I," cried Potts ; " it has been accomplished by the 
aid of " 

But feeling himself checked by a glance from the reeve, he 
stammered out, " of of Mother Demdike." 

" You declared just now that marks, meres, and boundaries, 
were unremovable, Master Potts," said the reeve, with a sneer ; 
" you have altered your opinion." 

The crestfallen attorney was dumb. 

(t Master Roger Nowell must find some better plea than the 
imputation of witchcraft to set aside Mistress Nutter's claim," ob 
served Richard. 

" Yeigh, that he mun," cried James Device, and the hinds who 
supported him. 

The magistrate bit his lips with vexation. 

" There is witchcraft in it, I repeat," he said. 

" Yeigh, that there be," responded old Mitton. 

But the words were scarcely uttered, when he was felled to the 
ground by the bludgeon of James Device. 

"EyM sarve thee i' t' same way, fo' two pins," said Jem, 
regarding Potts with a savage look. 

" No violence, Jem," cried Nicholas, authoritatively " you 
do harm to the cause you would serve by your outrageous con 
duct." 

" Beg pardon, squoire," replied Jem, " boh ey winna hear lies 
towd abowt Mistress Nutter." 

u No one shan speak ill on her here," cried the hinds. 

" Well, Master Nowell," said Nicholas, " are you willing to 
-concede the matter at once, or will you pursue the investigation 
further?" 

" I will ascertain the extent of the mischief done to me before 
I stop," rejoined the magistrate, angrily. 

" Forward, then," cried Nicholas. " Our course now lies along 
this footpath, with a croft on the left, and an old barn on the right. 
Here the plans correspond, I believe, Master Potts t" 

The attorney yielded a reluctant assent. 

" There is next a small spring and trough on the right, and we 
then come to a limestone quarry then by a plantation called Cat 
Gallows Wood so named, because some troublesome mouser has 
been hanged there, I suppose, and next by a deep moss-pit, called 
Swallow Hole. All right, eh, Master Potts ? We shall now enter 
upon Worston Moor, and come to the hut occupied by Jem De 
vice, who can, it is presumed, speak positively as to its situation." 

" Very true," cried Potts, as if struck by an idea. " Let the 
.rascal step forward. I wish to put a few questions to him respect- 



THE PERAMBULATION OF THE BOUNDARIES. 271 

ing his tenement. I think I shall catch him now," he added in a 
low tone to No well/ 

" Here ey be," cried Jem, stepping up with an insolent and 
defying look. " Whot d'ye want wi' me T' 

" First of all 1 would caution you to speak the truth," com 
menced Potts, impressively, " as I shall take down your answers 
in my memorandum book, and they will be produced against you 
hereafter." 

" If he utters a falsehood I will commit him," said Eoger Nowell, 
sharply. 

" Speak ceevily, an ey win gi' yo a ceevil answer," rejoined Jem, 
in a surly tone; " boh ey'm nah to be browbeaten." 

66 First, then, is your hut in sight ?" asked Potts. 

"Neaw," replied Jem. 

ft But you can point out its situation, I suppose I" pursued the 
attorney. 

" Sartinly ey con," replied Jem, without heeding a significant 
glance cast at him by the reeve. " It stonds behind yon kloof, 
ot soide o' t' moor, wi a rindle in front." 

fi Now mind what you say, sirrah,* cried Potts. " You are 
quite sure the hut is behind the clough ; and the rindle, which, 
being interpreted from your base vernacular, I believe means a 
gutter, in front of it ? " 

The reeve coughed slightly, but failed to attract Jem's atten 
tion, who replied quickly, that he was quite sure of the circum 
stances. 

*' Very well," said Potts " you have all heard the answer. 
He is quite sure as to what he states. Now, then, I suppose you 
can tell whether the hut looks to the north or the south ; whether 
the door opens to the moor or to the clough ; and whether there 
is a path leading from it to a spot called Hook Cliff?" 

At this moment Jem caught the eye of the reeve, and the look 
given him by the latter completely puzzled him. 

" Ey dunna reetly recollect which way it looks," he answered. 

a What ! you prevaricating rascal, do you pretend to say that 
you do not know which way your own dwelling stands," thun 
dered Roger Nowell. " Speak out, sirrah, or Sparshot shall take 
you into custody at once." 

" Ey'm ready, your worship," replied the beadle. 

" Weel, then," said Jem, imperfectly comprehending the signs 
made to him by the reeve, " the hut looks nather to t' south naw 
to t' north, but to t' west ; it feaces t' moor ; an there is a path 
fro' it to Hook Cliff." 

As he finished speaking, he saw from the reeve's angry gestures 
that he had made a mistake, but it was now too late to recall his 
words. However, he determined to make an effort 

" Now ey bethink me, ey'm naw sure that ey'm reet," he said. 

" You must be sure, sirrah," said Roger Nowell, bending his 



272 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

awful brows upon him. " You cannot be mistaken as to your 
own dwelling. Take down his description, Master Potts, and 
proceed with your interrogatories if you have any more to put 
to him." 

" I wish to ask him whether he has been at home to-day," said 
Potts. 

" Answer, fellow," thundered the magistrate. 

Before replying, Jem would fain have consulted the reevp, but 
the latter had turned away in displeasure. Not knowing whether 
a lie would serve his turn, and fearing he might be contradicted 
by some of the bystanders, he said he had not been at home for 
two days, but had returned the night before at a late hour from 
Whalley, and had slept at Rough Lee. 

" Then you cannot tell what changes may have taken place in 
your dwelling during your absence ? " said Potts. 

" Of course not," replied Jem, " boh ey dunna see how ony 
chawnges con ha' happent i' so short a time." 

t But I do, if you do not, sirrah," said Potts. "Be pleased 
to give me your plan, Master Nowell. I have a further question 
to ask him," he added, after consulting it for a moment. 

" Ey win awnser nowt more," replied Jem, gruffly. 

" You will answer whatever questions Master Potts may put 
to you, or you are taken into custody," said the magistrate, 
sternly. 

Jem would have willingly beaten a retreat; but being sur 
rounded by the two grooms and Sparshot, who only waited a sign 
from Nowell to secure him, or knock him down if he attempted 
to fly, he gave a surly intimation that he was ready to speak. 

" You are aware that a dyke intersects the heath before us, 
namely, Worston Moor?" said Potts. 

Jem nodded his head. 

" I must request particular attention to your plan as I proceed, 
Master Nicholas," pursued the attorney. " 1 now wish to be in 
formed by you, James Device, whether that dyke cuts through 
the middle of the moor, or traverses the side ; and if s v o, which 
side ? I desire also to be informed where it commences, and where 
it ends?" 

Jem scratched his head, and reflected a moment. 

" The matter does not require consideration, sirrah," cried Now 
ell. " I must have an instant answer." 

s( So yo shan," replied Jem ; " weel, then, th* dyke begins near 
a little mound ca'd Turn Heaod, about a hundert yards fro* my 
dwellin', an runs across th' easterly soide o't moor till it reaches 
Knowl Bottom." 

" You will swear this ? " cried Potts, scarcely able to conceal 
his satisfaction." 

" Swere it ! eigh," replied Jem. 

" Eigh, we'n aw swere it," chorused the hinds. 



THE PEKXATBULATTON- OF THE BOUNDARIES. 273 

"I'm delighted to hear it," cried Potts, radiant with delight, 
" for your description corresponds exactly with Master Nowell's 
plan, and differs materially from that of Mistress Nutter, as Squire 
Nicholas Assheton will tell you." 

" I cannot deny it," replied Nicholas, in some confusion. 

" Ey should ha' said ' westerly' i' stead o' * yeasterly,' " cried 
Jem, " boh yo puzzle a mon so wi' your lawyerly questins, that 
he dusna knoa his reet bond fro' his laft." 

" Yeigh, yeigh, we aw meant to say * yeasterly,' " added the 
hinds. 

" You have sworn the contrary," cried Nowell. " Secure him," 
he added to the grooms and Sparshot, "and do not let him go till 
we have completed the survey. We will now see how far the 
reality corresponds with the description, and what further devilish 
tricks have been played with the property." 

Upon this the troop was again put in motion, James Device 
walking between the two grooms, with Sparshot behind him. 

So wonderfully elated was Master Potts by the successful hit 
he had just made, and which, in his opinion, quite counterbalanced 
his previous failure, that he could not help communicating his 
satisfaction to Flint, and this in such manner, that the fiery 
little animal, who had been for some time exceedingly tractable 
and good-natured, took umbrage at it, and threatened to dislodge 
him if he did not desist from his vagaries delivering the hint so 
clearly and unmistakeably that it was not lost upon his rider, 
who endeavoured to calm him down. In proportion as the at 
torney's spirits rose, those of James Device and his followers sank, 
for they felt they were caught in a snare, from which they could 
not easily escape. 

By this time they had reached the borders of Worston Moor, 
which had been hitherto concealed by a piece of rising ground, 
covered with gorse and brushwood, and Jem's hut, together with 
the clough, the rindle, and the dyke, came distinctly into view. 
The plans were again produced, and, on comparing them, it ap 
peared that the various landmarks were precisely situated as laid 
down by Mistress Nutter, while their disposition was entirely at 
variance with James Device's statement. 

Master Potts then rose in his stirrups, and calling for silence, 
addressed the assemblage. 

" There stands the hut," he said, " and instead of being behind 
the clough, it is on one side of it, while the door certainly does 
not face the moor, neither is the rindle in front of the dwelling or 
near it ; while the dyke, which is the main and important boun 
dary line between the properties, runs above two hundred yards 
further west than formerly. Now, observe the original position 
of these marks, meres, and boundaries that is, of this hut, this 
clough, this rindle, and this dyke exactly corresponds with the 
description given of them by the man Device, who dwells in the 



274 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

place, and who is, therefore, a person most likely to be accurately 
acquainted with the country ; and yet, though he has only been 
absent two days, changes the most surprising have taken place^ 
changes so surprising, indeed, that he scarcely knows the way to 
his own house, and certainly never could find the path which he 
has described as leading to Hook Cliff, since it is entirely obliter 
ated. Observe, further, all these extraordinary and incompre 
hensible changes in the appearance of the country, and in the 
situation of the marks, meres, and boundaries, are favourable to 
Mistress Nutter, and give her the advantage she seeks over my 
honoured and honourable client. They are set down in Mistress 
Nutter's plan, it is true ; but when, let me ask, was that plan 
prepared ? In my opinion it was prepared first, and the changes 
in the land made after it by diabolical fraud and contrivance. I 
am sorry to have to declare this to you, Master Nicholas, and to 
you, Master Richard, but such is my firm conviction." 

" And mine, also," added Nowell ; u and I here charge Mistress 
Nutter with sorcery and witchcraft, and on my return I will im 
mediately issue a warrant for her arrest. Sparshot, I command 
you to attach the person of James Device, for aiding and abetting 
her in her foul practices." 

" I will help you to take charge of him," said the reeve, riding 
forward. 

Probably this was done to give Jem a chance of escape, and if 
so, it was successful, for as the reeve pushed among his captors, and 
thrust Sparshot aside, the ruffian broke from them ; and running 
with great swiftness across the moor, plunged into the clough, and 
disappeared. 

Nicholas and Richard instantly gave chase, as did Master Potts, 
but the fugitive led them over the treacherous bog in such a 
manner as to baffle all pursuit. A second disaster here overtook 
the unlucky attorney, and damped him in his hour of triumph. 
Flint, who had apparently not forgotten or forgiven the joyous 
kicks he had recently received from the attorney's heels, came to 
a sudden halt by the side of the quagmire, and, putting down his 
head, and flinging up his legs, cast him into it. While Potts was 
scrambling out, the animal galloped off in the direction of the 
clough, and had just reached it when he was seized upon by 
James Device, who suddenly started from the covert, and vaulted 
upon his back. 



CHAPTER VIIL ROUGH LEE. 

ON returning from their unsuccessful pursuit of James Device, 
the two Asshetons found Roger Nowell haranguing the hinds, who, 
on the flight of their leader, would have taken to their heels like 
wise, if they had not been detained, partly by the energetic efforts 



ROUGH LEE. 275 

ot' Sparshot and the grooms, and partly by the exhortations and 
menaces of the magistrate and Holden. As it was, two or three 
contrived to get away, and fled across the moor, whither the reeve 
pretended to pursue them ; while those left behind were taken 
sharply to task by Roger Nowell. 

" Listen to me," he cried, " and take good heed to what I say, 
for it concerns you nearly. Strange and dreadful things have 
come under my observation on my way hither. I have seen a 
whole village stricken as by a plague a poor pedlar deprived of 
the use of his limbs and put in peril of his life and a young 
maiden, once the pride and ornament of your own village, snatched 
from a fond father's care, and borne to an untimely grave. These 
things I have seen with my own eyes; and I am resolved that the 
perpetrators of these enormities, Mothers Demdike and Chattox, 
shall be brought to justice. As to you, the deluded victims of 
the impious hags, I can easily understand why you shut your eyes 
to their evil doings. Terrified by their threats you submit to 
their exactions, and so become their slaves slaves of the bond 
slaves of Satan. What miserable servitude is this ! By so doing 
you not only endanger the welfare of your souls, by leaguing with 
the enemies of Heaven, and render yourselves unworthy to be 
classed with a religious and Christian people, but you place your 
lives in jeopardy by becoming accessories to the crimes of those 
great offenders, and render yourselves liable to like punishment 
with them. Seeing, then, the imminency of the peril in which 
you stand, you will do well to avoid it while there is yet time. 
Nor is this your only risk. Your servitude to Mistress Nutter is 
equally perilous. What if she be owner of the land you till, and 
the flocks you tend ! You owe her no fealty. She has forfeited 
all title to your service and, so far from aiding her, you ought to 
regard her as a great criminal, whom you are bound to bring to 
justice. I have now incontestable proofs of her dealing in the 
black art, and can show that by witchcraft she has altered the face 
of this country, with the intent to rob me of my land." 

Holden now took up the theme. " The finger of Heaven is 
pointed against such robbery," he cried. " < Cursed is he,' saith 
the scripture, 'that removeth his neighbour's landmark.' And 
again, it is written, < Cursed is he that smiteth his neighbour 
secretly.' Both these things hath Mistress, Nutter done, and for 
both shall she incur divine vengeance." 

" Neither shall she escape that of man," added Nowell, severely ; 
" for our sovereign lord hath enacted that all persons employing 
or rewarding any evil spirit, shall be held guilty of felony, and 
shall suffer death. And death will be her portion, for such de 
moniacal agency most assuredly hath she employed." 

The magistrate here paused for a moment to regard his audience, 
and reading in their terrified looks that his address had produced 
the desired impression, he continued with increased severity 



276 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" These wicked women shall trouble the land no longer. They 
shall be arrested and brought to judgment ; and if you do not 
heartily bestir yourselves in their capture, and undertake to ap 
pear in evidence against them, you shall be held and dealt with 
as accessories in their crimes." 

Upon this, the hinds, who were greatly alarmed, declared with 
one accord their willingness to act as the magistrate should direct. 

" You do wisely," cried Potts, who by this time had made his 
way back to the assemblage, covered from head to foot witjj ooze, 
as on his former misadventure. " Mistress Nutter and the two 
old hags who hold you in thrall would lead you to destruction. 
For understand it is the firm determination of my respected client,. 
Master Roger No well, as well as of myself, not to relax in our exer 
tions till the whole of these pestilent witches who trouble the country 
be swept away, and to spare none who assist and uphold them." 

The hinds stared aghast, for so grim was the appearance of the 
attorney, that they almost thought Hobthurst, the lubber-fiend, 
was addressing them. 

At this moment old Henry Mitton came up. He had partially 
recovered from the stunning effects of the blow dealt him by 
James Device, but his head was cut open, and his white locks 
were dabbled in blood. Pushing his way through the assemblage, 
he stood before the magistrate. 

" If yo want a witness agen that foul murtheress and witch, 
Alice Nutter, ca' me, Master Roger Nowell," he said. " Ey con 
tay my Bible oath that the whole feace o' this keawntry has been 
chaunged sin y ester neet, by her hondywark. Ca' me also to 
speak to her former life to her intimacy wi' Mother Demdike 
an owd Chattox. Ca' me to prove her constant attendance at 
devils' sabbaths on Pendle Hill, and elsewhere, wi' other black 
and damning offences an among 'em the murder, by witchcraft, 
o' her husband, Ruchot Nutter." 

A thrill of horror pervaded the assemblage at this denunciation; 
and Master Potts, who was being cleansed from his sable stains 
by one of the grooms, cried out 

" This is the very man for us, my excellent client. Your name 
and abode, friend?" 

" Harry Mitton o' Rough Lee," replied the old man. " Ey 
ha' dwelt there seventy year an uppards, an ha' known the 
feyther and granfeyther o' Ruchot Nutter, an also Alice Nutter, 
when hoo war Alice Assheton. Ca' me, sir, an aw* ye want to 
knoa ye shan larn." 

" \\ e will call you, my good friend," said Potts ; " and, if you 
have sus tamed any private wrongs from Mistress Nutter, they 
shall be amply redressed." 

" Ey ha' endured much ot her honts," rejoined Mitton ; " boh 
ey dunna speak o' mysel'. It be high time that Owd Scrat should 
ha' his claws dipt, an honest folk be allowed to live in peace." 



ROUGH LEE. 277 

" Very true, my worthy friend very true," assented Potts. 

An immediate return to Whalley was now proposed by No well; 
but Master Potts was of opinion that, as they were in the neigh 
bourhood of Malkin Tower, they should proceed thither at once, 
and effect the arrest of Mother Demdike, after which Mother 
Chattox could be sought out and secured. The presence of these 
two witches would be most important, he declared, in the exami 
nation of Mistress Nutter. Hue and cry for the fugitive, James 
Device, ought also to be made throughout the forest." 

Confounded by what they heard, Richard and Nicholas had 
hitherto taken no part in the proceedings, but they now seconded 
Master Potts's proposition, hoping that the time occupied by the 
visit to Malkin Tower would prove serviceable to Mistress 
Nutter; for they did not doubt that intelligence would be 
conveyed to her by some of her agents, of NowelFs intention 
to arrest her. 

Additional encouragement was given to the plan by the arrival 
of Richard Baldwyn, who, at this juncture, rode furiously up to 
the party. 

" Weel, han yo settled your business here, Mester No well?" 
he asked, in breathless anxiety. 

u We have so far settled it, that we have established proofs of 
witchcraft against Mistress Nutter," replied Nowell. " Can you 
speak to her character, Baldwyn?" 

u Yeigh, that ey con," rejoined the miller, f( an nowt good 
Ey wish to see aw these mischeevous witches burnt ; an that's 
why ey ha' ridden efter yo, Mester Nowell. JEy want your help 
os a magistrate agen Mother Demdike. Yo ha a constable wf 
ye, and so can arrest her at wonst." 

" You have come most opportunely, Baldwyn," observed Potts. 
" We were just considering whether we should go to Malkin 
Tower." 

" Then decide upon *t," rejoined the miller, " or th' owd hag 
win escape ye. Tak her unaweares." 

" I don't know that we shall take her unawares, Baldwyn," 
said Potts ; " but I am decidedly of opinion that we should gc 
thither without delay. Is Malkin Tower far off?" 

u About a mile fro' Rough Lee," replied the miller. " Go back 
wi' me to t' mill, where yo con refresh yourselves, an ey'n get 
together some dozen o' my friends, an then we'n aw go up to t' 
Tower together." 

^ " A very good suggestion," said Potts ; " and no doubt Master 
Nowell will accede to it." 

" We have force enough already, it appears to me," observed 
Nowell. 

" I should think so," replied Richard. " Some dozen men, 
armed, against a poor defenceless old woman, are surely enough." 

" Owd, boh neaw defenceless, Mester Ruchot," rejoined Bald- 



278 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

wyn. (c Yo canna go i' too great force on an expedition like this. 
Malkin Tower is a varry strong place, os yo'n find." 

" Well," said No well, " since we are here, I agree with Master 
Potts, that it would be better to secure these two offenders, and 
convey them to Whalley, where their examination can be taken 
at the same time with that of Mistress Nutter. We therefore 
accept your offer of refreshment, Baldwyn, as some of our party 
may stand in need of it, and will at once proceed to the mill." 

" Well resolved, sir," said Potts. 

" We'n tae th' owd witch, dead or alive," cried Baldwyn. 

" Alive we must have her alive, good Baldwyn," said Potts. 
(( You must see her perish at the stake." 

" Reet, mon," cried the miller, his eyes blazing with fury ; 
" that's true vengeance. Ey'n ride whoam an get aw ready fo ye. 
Yo knoa t' road." 

So saying, he struck spurs into his horse and galloped off. 
Scarcely was he gone than the reeve, who had kept out of his 
sight, came forward. 

" Since you have resolved upon going to Malkin Tower," he 
said to Nowell, " and have a sufficiently numerous party for the 
purpose, my further attendance can be dispensed with. I will 
ride in search of James Device." 

" Do so," replied the magistrate, " and let hue and cry be made 
after him." 

" It shall be," replied the reeve, te and, if taken, he shall be 
conveyed to Whalley." 

And he made towards the clough, as if with the intention of 
putting his words into execution. 

Word was now given to set forward, and Master Potts having 
been accommodated with a horse by one of the grooms, who 
proceeded on foot, the party began to retrace their course to the 
mill. 

They were soon again by the side of Pendle Water, and ere 
long reached Rough Lee. As they rode through the close at the 
back of the mansion, Roger Nowell halted for a moment, and 
observed with a grim smile to Richard 

" Never more shall Mistress Nutter enter that house. Within 
a week she shall be lodged in Lancaster Castle, as a felon of the 
darkest dye, and she shall meet a felon's fate. And not only 
shall she be sent thither, but all her partners in guilt Mother 
Demdike and her accursed brood, the Devices ; old Chattox and 
her grand- daughter, Nance Redferne : not one shall escape." 

" You do not include Alizon Device in your list ? " cried 
Richard. 

" I include all I will spare none," rejoined Nowell, sternly. 

" Then I will move no further with you," said Richard. 

" How !" cried Nowell, " are you an upholder of these witches! 
Beware what you do, young man. Beware how you take part 



ROUGH LEE. 279 

with them. You will bring suspicion upon yourself, and get en 
tangled in a net from which you will not easily escape." 

" I care not what may happen to me," rejoined Richard ; u I 
will never lend myself to gross injustice such as you are about 
to practise. Since you announce your intention of including the 
innocent with the guilty, of exterminating a whole family for the 
crimes of one or two of its members, I have done. You have 
made dark accusations against Mistress Nutter, but you have 
proved nothing. You assert that, by witchcraft, she has changed 
the features of your land, but in what way can you make good 
the charge? Old Mitton has, indeed, volunteered himself as a 
witness against her, and has accused her of most heinous offences ; 
but he has at the same time shown that he is her enemy, and his 
testimony will be regarded with doubt. I will not believe her 
guilty on mere suspicion, and I deny that you have aught more 
to proceed upon." 

" I shall not argue the point with you now, sir," replied Nowell, 
angrily. *' Mistress Nutter will be fairly tried, and if I fail in 
my proofs against her, she will be acquitted. But I have little 
fear of such a result," he added, with a sinister smile. 

" You are confident, sir, because you know there would be 
every disposition to find her guilty," replied Richard. " She 
will not be fairly tried. All the prejudices of ignorance and 
superstition, heightened by the published opinions of the King, will 
be arrayed against her. Were she as free from crime, or thought 
of crime, as the new-born babe, once charged with the horrible 
and inexplicable offence of witchcraft, she would scarce escape. 
You go determined to destroy her." 

" I will not deny it," said Roger Nowell, a and I am satisfied 
that I shall render good service to society by freeing it from so 
vile a member. So abhorrent is the crime of witchcraft, that 
were my own son suspected, I would be the first to deliver him 
to justice. Like a noxious and poisonous plant, the offence has 
taken deep root in this country, and is spreading its baneful 
influence around, so that, if it be not extirpated, it may spring up 
anew, and cause incalculable mischief. But it shall now be effec 
tually checked. Of the families I have mentioned, not one shall 
escape ; and if Mistress Nutter herself had a daughter, she should 
be brought to judgment. In such cases, children must suffer for 
the sins of the parents." 

" You have no regard, then, for their innocence?" said Richard, 
who felt as if a weight of calamity was crushing him down. 

c< Their innocence must be proved at the proper tribunal," 
rejoined Nowell. " It is not for me to judge them." 

" But you do judge them," cried Richard, sharply. te In making 
the charge, you know that you pronounce the sentence of con 
demnation as well. This is why the humane man why the just 
man would hesitate to bring an accusation, even where he sus- 



280 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

pected guilt but where suspicion could not possibly attach, he 
would never suffer himself, however urged on by feelings of ani 
mosity, to injure the innocent." 

" You ascribe most unworthy motives to me, young sir," 
rejoined Nowell, sternly. a I am influenced only by a desire to 
see justice administered, and I shall not swerve from my duty> 
because my humanity may be called in question by a love-sick 
boy. I understand why you plead thus warmly for these,, infa 
mous persons. You are enthralled by the beauty of the young 
witch, Alizon Device. I noted how you were struck by her 
yesterday and I heard what Sir Thomas Metcalfe said on the 
subject. But take heed what you do. You may jeopardise both 
soul and body in the indulgence of this fatal passion. Witchcraft 
is exercised in many ways. Its professors have not only power 
to maim and to kill, and to do other active mischief, but to 
ensnare the affections and endanger the souls of their victims, by 
enticing them to unhallowed love. Alizon Device is comely to 
view, no doubt, but who shall say whence her beauty is derived? 
Hell may have arrayed her in its fatal charms. Sin is beautiful, 
but all-destructive. And the time will come when you may 
thank me for delivering you from the snares of this seductive siren." 
Richard uttered an angry exclamation. 

" Not now I do not expect it you are too much besotted by 
her," pursued Nowell; " but I conjure you to cast off this wicked 
and senseless passion, which, unless checked, will lead you to 
perdition. You have heard what abominable rites are practised 
at those unholy meetings called Devil's Sabbaths, and how can 
you say that some demon may not be your rival in Alizon's love ? " 
u You pass all licence, sir," cried Richard, infuriated past 
endurance ; u and, if you do not instantly retract the infamous 
accusation you have made, neither your age nor your office shall 
protect you." 

u I can fortunately protect myself, young man," replied Nowell, 
coldly ; " and if aught were wanting to confirm my suspicions 
that you were under some evil influence, it would be supplied by 
your present conduct. You are bewitched by this girl." 
" It is false !" cried Richard. 

And he raised his hand against the magistrate, when Nicholas 
quickly interposed. 

" Nay, cousin Dick," cried the squire, " this must not be. 
You must take other means of defending the poor girl, whose 
innocence 1 will maintain as stoutly as yourself. But, since 
Master Roger Nowell is resolved to proceed to extremities, I shall 
likewise take leave to retire." 

u Your pardon, sir," rejoined Nowell; "you will not withdraw 
till I think fit. Master Richard Assheton, forgetful alike of the 
respect due to age and constituted authority, has ventured to 
raise his hand against me, for which, if 1 chose, 1 could place him 



ROUGH LEE. 281 

in immediate arrest. But I have no such intention. On the 
contrary, I am willing to overlook the insult, attributing it to the 
frenzy by which he is possessed. But both he and you, Master 
Nicholas, are mistaken if you suppose I will permit you to retire. 
As a magistrate in the exercise of my office, I call upon you both 
to aid me in the capture of the two notorious witches, Mothers 
Demdike and Chattox, and not to desist or depart from me till 
such capture be effected. You know the penalty of refusal." 

" Heavy fine or imprisonment, at the option of the magistrate," 
remarked Potts. 

" My cousin Nicholas will do as he pleases," observed Richard ; 
" but, for my part, I will not stir a step further." 

"Nor will I," added Nicholas, "unless I have Master Nowell's 
solemn pledge that he will take no proceedings against Alizon 
Device." 

" You can give no such assurance, sir," whispered Potts, seeing 
that the magistrate wavered in his resolution. 

" You must go, then," said Nowell, " and take the consequences 
of your refusal to act with me. Your relationship to Mistress 
Nutter will not tell in your favour." 

u I understand the implied threat," said Nicholas, " and laugh 
at it. Richard, lad, I am with you. Let him catch the witches 
himself, if he can. I will not budge an inch further with him." 

" Farewell, then, gentlemen," replied Roger Nowell ; " I am 
sorry to part company with you thus, but when next we meet " 
and he paused. 

u We meet as enemies, I presume" supplied Nicholas. 

" We meet no longer as friends," rejoined the magistrate, 
coldly. 

With this he moved forward with the rest of the troop, while 
the two Asshetons, after a moment's consultation, passed through 
a gate and made their way to the back of the mansion, where they 
found one or two men on the look-out, from whom they received 
intelligence, which induced them immediately to spring from their 
horses and hurry into the house. 

Arrived at the principal entrance of the mansion, which was 
formed by large gates of open iron-work, admitting a view of the 
garden and front of the house, Roger Nowell again called a halt, 
and Master Potts, at his request, addressed the porter and two 
other serving-men who were standing in the garden, in this 
fashion 

66 Pay attention to what I say to you, my men," he cried in a 
loud and authoritative voice " a warrant will this day be issued 
for the arrest of Alice Nutter of Rough Lee, in whose service 
you have hitherto dwelt, and who is charged with the dreadful 
crime of witchcraft, and with invoking, consulting, and covenanting 
with, entertaining, employing, feeding, and rewarding evil spirits, 
contrary to the laws of God and man, and in express violation of 



282 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

his Majesty's statute. Now take notice, that if the said Alice 
Nutter shall at any time hereafter return to this her former abode, 
or take refuge within it, you are hereby bound to deliver her up 
forthwith to the nearest constable, to be by him brought before 
the worshipful Master Roger Nowell of Read, in this county, so 
that she may be examined by him on these charges. You hear 
what I have said ?" 

The men exchanged significant glances, but made no reply. 

Potts was about to address them, but to his surprise he saw 
the central door of the house thrown open, and Mistress Nutter 
issue from it. She marched slowly and majestically down the 
broad gravel walk towards the gate. The attorney could scarcely 
believe his eyes, and he exclaimed to the magistrate with a 
chuckle 

" Who would have thought of this ! We have her safe enough 
now. Ha! ha!" 

But no corresponding smile played upon NowelTs hard lips. 
His gaze was fixed inquiringly upon the lady. 

Another surprise. From the same door issued Alizon Device, 
escorted by Nicholas and Richard Assheton, who walked on 
either side of her, and the three followed Mistress Nutter slowly 
down the broad walk. Such a display seemed to argue no want 
of confidence. Alizon did not look towards the group outside 
the gates, but seemed listening eagerly to what Richard was 
saying to her. 

" So, Master Nowell," cried Mistress Nutter, boldly, " since 
you find yourself defeated in the claims you have made against 
my property, you are seeking to revenge yourself, I understand, by 
bringing charges against me as false as they are calumnious. 
But I defy your malice, and can defend myself against your 
violence." 

" If I could be astonished at any thing in you, madam, I should 
be at your audacity," rejoined Nowell, " but I am glad that you 
have presented yourself before me ; for it was my fixed intention, 
on my return to Whalley, to cause your arrest, and your unex 
pected appearance here enables me to put my design into 
execution somewhat sooner than I anticipated." 

Mistress Nutter laughed scornfully. 

" Sparshot," vociferated Nowell, " enter those gates, and arrest 
the lady in the King's name." 

The beadle looked irresolute. He did not like the task. 

" The gates are fastened," cried Mistress Nutter. 

" Force them open, then," roared Nowell, dismounting and 
shaking them furiously. " Bring me a heavy stone. By heaven ! 
I will not be baulked of my prey." 

" My servants are armed," cried Mistress Nutter, " and the 
first man who enters shall pay the penalty of his rashness with life. 
Bring me a petronel, Blackadder." 



ROUGH LEE. 283 

The order was promptly obeyed by the ill-favoured attendant, 
who was stationed near the gate. 

u I am in earnest, said Mistress Nutter," aiming the 
petronel, " and seldom miss my mark." 

st Give attention to me, my men," cried Roger Nowell. " I 
charge you in the King^s name to throw open the gate." 

" And I charge you in mine to keep it fast," rejoined Mistress 
Nutter. " We shall see who will be obeyed." 

One of the grooms now advanced with a large stone taken from 
an adjoining wall, which he threw with great force against the 
gates, but though it shook them violently the fastenings continued 
firm. Blackadder and the two other serving-men, all of whom 
Avere armed with halberts, now advanced to the gates, and, 
thrusting the points of their weapons through the bars, drove 
back those who were near them. 

A short consultation now took place between Nowell and Potts, 
after which the latter, taking care to keep out of the reach of the 
halberts, thus delivered himself in a loud voice: 

" Alice Nutter, in order to avoid the serious consequences which 
might ensue were the necessary measures taken to effect a forcible 
entrance into your habitation, the worshipful Master Nowell has 
thought fit to grant you an hour's respite for reflection ; at the 
expiration of which time he trusts that you, seeing the futility of 
resisting the law, will quietly yield yourself a prisoner. Other 
wise, no further leniency will be shown you and those who may 
uphold you in your contumacy." 

Mistress Nutter laughed loudly and contemptuously. 

" At the same time," pursued Potts, on a suggestion from the 
magistrate, (e Master Roger Nowell demands that Alizon Device, 
daughter of Elizabeth Device, whom he beholds in your company, 
and who is likewise suspected of witchcraft, be likewised delivered 
up to him." 

" Aught more ? " inquired Mistress Nutter. 

" Only this," replied Potts, in a taunting tone, " the worshipful 
magistrate would offer a friendly counsel to Master Nicholas 
Assheton, and Master Richard Assheton, whom, to his infinite sur 
prise, he perceives in a hostile position before him, that they in 
nowise interfere with his injunctions, but, on the contrary, lend 
their aid in furtherance of them, otherwise he may be compelled 
to adopt measures towards them, which must be a source of regret 
to him. I have furthermore to state, on the part of his worship, 
that strict watch will be kept at all the approaches of your house, 
and that no one, on any pretence whatever, during the appointed 
time of respite, will be suffered to enter it, or depart from it. In 
an hour his worship will return." 

" And in an hour he shall have my answer," replied Mistress 
Nutter, turning away. 



284 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

CHAPTER IX. HOW ROUGH LEE WAS DEFENDED 
BY NICHOLAS. 

WHEN skies are darkest, and storms are gathering thickest 
overhead, the star of love will oft shine out with greatest bril 
liancy ; and so, while Mistress Nutter was hurling defiance against 
her foes at the gate, and laughing their menaces to scorn while 
those very foes were threatening Alizon's liberty and life she 
had become wholly insensible to the peril environing her, and 
almost unconscious of any other presence save that of Richard, 
now her avowed lover; for, impelled by the irresistible violence 
of his feelings, the young man had chosen that moment, apparently 
so u a propitious, and so fraught with danger and alarm, for the 
declaration of his passion, and the offer of his life in her service. 
A few low-murmured words were all Alizon could utter in reply, 
but they were enough. They told Richard his passion was re 
quited, and his devotion fully appreciated. Sweet were those 
moments to both sweet, though sad. Like Alizon, her lover 
had become insensible to all around him. Engrossed by one 
thought and one object, he was lost to aught else, and was only at 
last aroused to what was passing by the squire, who, having good- 
naturedly removed to a little distance from the pair, now gave 
utterance to a low whistle, to let them know that Mistress Nutter 
was coming towards them. The lady, however, did not stop, but 
motioning them to follow, entered the house. 

66 You have heard what has passed," she said. u In an hour 
Master Nowell threatens to return and arrest me and Alizon." 

" That shall never be," cried Richard, with a passionate look at 
the young girl. u We will defend you with our lives." 

u Much may be done in an hour," observed Nicholas to Mis 
tress Nutter, " and my advice to you is to use the time allowed 
you in making good your retreat, so that, when the hawks come 
back, they may find the doves flown." 

" I have no intention of quitting my dovecot," replied Mistress 
Nutter, with a bitter smile. 

" Unless you are forcibly taken from it, I suppose," said the 
squire; " a contingency not impossible if you await Roger No well's 
return. This time, be assured, he will not go away empty-handed." 

" He may not go away at all," rejoined Mistress Nutter, sternly. 

" Then you mean to make a determined resistance?" said 
Nicholas. u Recollect that you are resisting the law. I wish I 
could induce you to resort to the safer expedient of flight. This 
affair is already dark and perplexed enough, and does not require 
further complication. Find any place of concealment, no matter 
where, till some arrangement can be made with Roger Nowell." 

U I should rather urge you to fly, Nicholas," rejoined the lady; 
" for it is evident you have strong misgivings as to the justice of 



HOW ROUGH LEE WAS DEFENDED BY NICHOLAS. 285 

my cause, and would not willingly compromise yourself. I will 
not surrender to this magistrate, because, by so doing, my life 
would assuredly be forfeited, for my innocence could never be 
established before the iniquitous and bloody tribunal to which I 
should be brought. Neither, for the same reason, will I surrender 
Alizon, who, with a refinement of malignity, has been similarly 
accused. I shall now proceed to make preparations for my de 
fence. Go, if you think fitting or stay but if you do stay, I 
shall calculate upon your active services." 

t( You may," replied the squire. " Whatever I may think, I 
admire your spirit, and will stand by you. But time is passing, 
and the foe will return and find us engaged in deliberation when 
we ought to be prepared. You have a dozen men on the premises 
on whom you can rely. Half of these must be placed at the back 
of the house to prevent any entrance from being effected in that 
quarter. The rest can remain within the entrance hall, and be 
ready to rush forth when summoned by us; but we will not so 
summon them unless we are hardly put to it, and their aid is in 
dispensable. All should be well armed, but I trust they will not 
have to use their weapons. Are you agreed to this, madam?" 

" I am," replied Mistress Nutter, u and I will give instant 
directions that your wishes are complied with. All approaches 
to the back of the house shall be strictly guarded as you direct, 
and my trusty man, Blackadder, on whose fidelity and courage I 
can entirely rely, shall take the command of the party in the hall, 
and act under your orders. Your prowess will not be unobserved, 
for Alizon and I shall be in the upper room commanding the gar 
den, whence we can see all that takes place." 

A slight smile was exchanged between the lovers ; but it was 
evident, from her anxious looks, that Alizon did not share in Rich 
ard's confidence. An opportunity, however, was presently afforded 
him of again endeavouring to reassure her, for Mistress Nutter 
went forth to give Blackadder his orders, and Nicholas betook 
himself to the back of the house to ascertain, from personal inspec 
tion, its chance of security. 

" You are still uneasy, dear Alizon," said Richard, taking her 
hand ; " but do not be cast down. No harm shall befall you." 

" It is not for myself I am apprehensive," she replied, (i but for 
you, who are about to expose yourself to needless risk in this 
encounter ; and, if any thing should happen to you, I shall be for 
ever wretched. I would far rather you left me to my fate." 

" And can you think I would allow you to be borne away a 
captive to ignominy and certain destruction'?" cried Richard. 
" No, I will shed my heart's best blood before such a calamity 
shall occur." 

"Alas!" said Alizon, "I have no means of requiting your 
devotion. All I can offer you in return is my love, and that, I 
fear, will prove fatal to you." 



286 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Oh ! do not say so," cried Richard. " Why should this sad 
presentiment still haunt you? I strove to chase it away just now, 
and hoped I had succeeded. You are dearer to me than life. 
Why, therefore, should I not risk it in your defence ? And why 
should your love prove fatal to me 1 " 

66 I know not," replied Alizon, in a tone of deepest anguish, 
rt but I feel as if my destiny were evil ; and that, against my will, 
I shall drag those I most love on earth into the same dark gulf 
with myself. I have the greatest affection for your sister^ Doro 
thy, and yet I have been the unconscious instrument of injury to 
her. And you too, Richard, who are yet dearer to me, are now 
put in peril on my account. I fear, too, when you know my 
whole history, you will think of me as a thing of evil, and shun me." 
" What mean you, Alizon?" he cried. 

rt Richard, I can have no secrets from you," she replied ; " and 
though I was forbidden to tell you what 1 am now about to dis 
close, I will not withhold it. I was born in this house, and am 
the daughter of its mistress." 

" You tell me only what I guessed, Alizon," rejoined the young 
man ; " but I see nothing in this why I should shun you." 

Alizon hid her face for a moment in her hands; and then look 
ing up, said wildly and hurriedly, " Would I had never known 
the secret of my birth ; or, knowing it, had never seen what I 
beheld last night!" 

" What did you behold?" asked Richard, greatly agitated. 
" Enough to convince me, that in gaining a mother I was lost 
myself," replied Alizon ; " for oh ! how can I survive the shock 
of telling you I am bound, by ties that can never be dissevered, 
to one abandoned alike of God and man who has devoted herself 
to the Fiend !" Pity me, Richard- pity me, and shun me !" 

There was a moment's dreadful pause, which the young man 
was unable to break. 

" Was I not right in saying my love would be fatal to you?" 
continued Alizon. " Fly from me while you can, Richard. Fly 
from this house, or you are lost for ever!" 

" Never, never ! I will not stir without you," cried Richard. 
" Come with me, and escape all the dangers by which you are 
menaced, and leave your sinning parent to the doom she so richly 
merits." 

rt No, no ; sinful though she be, she is still my mother. I can 
not leave her," cried Alizon. 

" If you stay, I stay, be the consequences what they may," 
replied the young man ; " but you have rendered my arm power 
less by what you have told me. How can I defend one whom I 
know to be guilty?" 

" Therefore I urge you to fly," she rejoined. 
" I can reconcile myself to it thus," said Richard " in defend 
ing you, whom I know to be innocent, I cannot avoid defending 



ROUGH LEE WAS DEFENDED BY NICHOLAS. 287 

her. The plea is not a good one, but it will suffice to allay my 
scruples of conscience." 

At this moment Mistress Nutter entered the hall, followed by 
Blackadder and three other men, armed with calivers. 

" All is ready, Richard," she said, " and it wants but a few 
minutes of the appointed time. Perhaps you shrink from the 
task you have undertaken 1 ?" she added, regarding him sharply; 
" if so, say so at once, and I will adopt my own line of defence." 
te Nay, I shall be ready to go forth in a moment," rejoined the 
young man, glancing at Alizon. " Where is Nicholas?" 

" Here," replied the squire, clapping him on the shoulder. 
"All is secure at the back of the house, and the horses are 
coming round. We must mount at once." 
Richard arose without a word. 

" Blackadder will attend to your orders," said Mistress Nutter ; 
" he only waits a sign from you to issue forth with his three com 
panions, or to fire through the windows upon the aggressors, if 
you see occasion for it." 

" I trust it will not come to such a pass," rejoined the squire ; 
" a few blows from these weapons will convince them we are in 
earnest, and will, I hope, save further trouble." 

And as he spoke he took down a couple of stout staves, and 
gave one of them to Richard. 

" Farewell, then, preux chevaliers" cried Mistress Nutter, with 
affected gaiety ; " demean yourselves valiantly, and remember 
that bright eyes will be upon you. Now, Alizon, to our 
chamber." 

Richard did not hazard a look at the young girl as she quitted 
the hall with her mother, but followed the squire mechanically 
into the garden, where they found the horses. Scarcely were 
they mounted than a loud hubbub, arising from the little village, 
proclaimed that their opponents had arrived, and presently after 
a large company of horse and foot appeared at the gate. 

At sight of the large force brought against them, the counte 
nance of the squire lost its confident and jovial expression. He 
counted nearly forty men, each of whom was armed in some way 
or other, and began to fear the affair would terminate awkwardly, 
and entail unpleasant consequences upon himself and his cousin. 
He was, therefore, by no means at his ease. As to Richard, he 
did not dare to ask himself how things would end, neither did he 
know how to act. His mind was in utter confusion, and his 
breast oppressed as if by a nightmare. He cast one look towards 
the upper window, and beheld at it the white face of Mistress 
Nutter, intently gazing at what was going forward, but Alizon 
was not to be seen. 

Within the last half hour the sky had darkened, and a heavy 
cloud hung over the house, threatening a storm. Richard hoped 
it would come on fiercely and fast. 



288 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Meanwhile, Roger Nowell had dismounted and advanced to 
the o-ate. 

" Gentlemen," he cried, addressing the two Asshetons, rt I 
expected to find free access given to me and my followers; but 
as these gates are still barred against me, I call upon you, as 
loyal subjects of the King, not to resist or impede the course of 
law, but to throw them instantly open." 

^ You must unbar them yourself, Master Nowell," replied 
Nicholas. " We shall give you no help." ^ 

" Nor offer any opposition, I hope, sir I" said the magistrate, 
sternly. 

" You are twenty to one, or thereabout," returned the squire, 
with a laugh ; " we shall stand a poor chance with you." 

" But other defensive and offensive preparations have been 
made, I doubt not," said Nowell ; " nay, I descry some armed 
men through the windows of the hall. Before coming to extre 
mities, I will make a last appeal to you and your kinsman. I 
have granted Mistress Nutter and the girl with her an hour's 
delay, in the hope that, seeing the futility of resistance, they 
would quietly surrender. But I find my clemency thrown away, 
and undue advantage taken of the time allowed for respite; 
therefore, I shall show them no further consideration. But to 
you, my friends, I would offer a last warning. Forget not that 
you are acting in direct opposition to the law ; that we are here 
armed with full authority and power to carry out our intentions ; 
and that all opposition on your part will be fruitless, and will be 
visited upon you hereafter with severe pains and penalties. For 
get not, also, that your characters will be irrecoverably damaged 
from your connexion with parties charged with the heinous offence 
of witchcraft. Meddle not, therefore, in the matter, but go your 
ways, or, if you would act as best becomes you, aid me in the 
arrest of the offenders." 

" Master Roger Nowell," replied Nicholas, walking his horse 
slowly towards the gate, " as you have given me a caution, I will 
give you one in return; and that is, to put a bridle on your 
tongue when you address gentlemen, or, by my fay, you are 
likely to get answers little to your taste. You have said that 
our characters are likely to suffer in this transaction, but, in my 
humble opinion, they will not suffer so much as your own. ^The 
magistrate who uses the arm of the law for purposes of private 
vengeance, and who brings a false rwid foul charge against his 
enemy, knowing that it cannot be repelled, is not entitled to any 
particular respect or honour. Thus have you acted towards 
Mistress Nutter. Defeated by her in the boundary question, 
without leaving its decision to those to whom you had referred 
it, you instantly accuse her of witchcraft, and seek to destroy 
her, as well as an innocent and unoffending girl, by whom she is 
attended. Is such conduct worthy of you, or likely to redound 



HOW ROUGH LEE WAS DEFENDED BY NICHOLAS. 289 

to your credit f I think not. But this is not all. Aided by 
your crafty and unscrupulous ally, Master Potcs, you get together 
a number' of Mistress Nutter's tenants, and, by threats and mis 
representations, induce them to become instruments of your 
vengeance. But when these misguided men come to know the 
truth of the case when they learn that you have no proofs 
whatever against Mistress Nutter, and that you are influenced 
solely by animosity to her, they are quite as likely to desert you 
as to stand by you. At all events, we are determined to resist 
this unjust arrest, and, at the hazard of our lives, to oppose your 
entrance into the house." 

Nowell and Potts were greatly exasperated by this speech, but 
they were little prepared for its consequences. Many of 
those who had been induced to accompany them, as has been 
shown, wavered in their resolution of acting against Mistress 
Nutter, but they now began to declare in her favour. In vain 
Potts repeated all his former arguments. They were no longer of 
any avail. Of the troop assembled at the gate more than half 
marched off, and shaped their course towards the rear of the 
house with what intention it was easy to surmise while of those 
who remained it was very doubtful whether the whole of them 
would act. 

The result of his oration was quite as surprising to Nicholas as 
to his opponents, and, enchanted by the effect of his eloquence, he 
could not help glancing up at the window, where he perceived 
Mistress Nutter, whose smiles showed that she was equally well 
pleased. 

Seeing that, if any further desertions took place, his chances 
would be at an end, with a menacing gesture at the squire, Koger 
Nowell ordered the attack to commence immediately. 

While some of his men, amongst whom were Baldwyn and old 
Mitton, battered against the gate with stones, another party, 
headed by Potts, scaled the walls, which, though of considerable 
height, presented no very serious obstacles in the way of active 
assailants. Elevated on the shoulders of Sparshot, Potts was 
soon on the summit of the wall, and was about to drop into the 
garden, when he heard a sound that caused him to suspend his 
intention. 

^ What are you about to do, cousin Nicholas ? " inquired 
Richard, as the word of assault was given by the magistrate. 

" Let loose Mistress Nutter's stag-hounds upon them," replied 
the squire. " They are kept in leash by a varlet stationed 
behind yon yew-tree hedge, who only awaits my signal to let 
them slip ; and by my faith it is time he had it." 

As he spoke, he applied a dog-whistle to his lips, and, blowing 
a loud call, it was immediately answered by a savage barking, and 
half a dozen hounds, rough-haired, of prodigious size and power, 

U 



290 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

resembling in make, colour, and ferocity, the Irish wolf-hoimd, 
bounded towards him. 

" Aha!" exclaimed Nicholas, clapping his hands to encourage 
them : " we could have dispersed the whole rout with these 
assistants. Hyke, Tristam ! hyke, Hubert ! Upon them ! 
upon them ! " 

It was the savage barking of the hounds that had caught the 
ears of the alarmed attorney, and made him desirous to sprain ble 
back again. But this was no such easy matter. Sparshot's 
broad shoulders were wanting to place his feet upon, and while he 
was bruising his knees against the roughened sides of the wall, 
in vain attempts to raise himself to the top of it unaided, Hubert's 
sharp teeth met in the calf of his leg, while those of Tristam were 
fixed in the skirts of his doublet, and penetrated deeply into the 
flesh that filled it. A terrific yell proclaimed the attorney's 
anguish and alarm, and he redoubled his efforts to escape. But, 
if before it was difficult to get up, the feat was now impossible. 
All he could do was to cling with desperate tenacity to the coping 
of the wall, for he made no doubt, if dragged down, he should be 
torn in pieces. Roaring lustily for help, he besought Nicholas to 
have compassion upon him; but the squire appeared little moved 
by his distress, and laughed heartily at his yells and vociferations. 

" You will not come again on a like errand, in a hurry, I fancy 
Master Potts," he said. 

" I will not, good Master Nicholas," rejoined Potts ; " for pity's 
sake call off these infernal hounds. They will rend me asunder 
as they would a fox." 

" You were a cunning fox, in good sooth, to come hither," 
rejoined Nicholas, in a taunting tone ; " but will you go hence if 
I liberate you?" 

" I will indeed I will! " replied Potts. 

"And will no more molest Mistress Nutter?" thundered 
Nicholas. 

" Take heed what you promise," roared No well from the other 
side of the wall. 

" If you do not promise it, the hounds shall pull you down, and 
make a meal of you !" cried Nicholas. 

u I do I swear whatever you desire ! " cried the terrified 
attorney. 

The hounds were then called off by the squire, and, nerved by 
fright, Potts sprang upon the wall, and tumbled over it upon the 
other side, alighting upon the head of his respected and singular 
good client, whom he brought to the ground. 

Meanwhile, all those unlucky persons who had succeeded in 
scaling the wall were attacked by the hounds, and, unable to 
stand against them, were chased round the garden, to the infinite 
amusement of the squire. Frightened to death, and unable 
otherwise to escape, for the gate allowed them no means of exity 



HOW ROUGH LEE WAS DEFENDED BY NICHOLAS. 291 

the poor wretches fled towards the terrace overlooking Pendle 
Water, and, leaping into the stream, gained the opposite bank. 
There they were safe, for the hounds were not allowed to follow 
them further. In this way the garden was completely cleared of 
the enemy, and Nicholas and Richard were left masters of the field. 

Leaning out of the window, Mistress Nutter laughingly con 
gratulated them on their success, and, as no further disposition 
was manifested on the part of Nowell and such of his troop that 
remained to renew the attack, the contest, for the present at 
least, was supposed to be at an end. 

By this time, also, intimation had been conveyed by the 
deserters from NoweU's troop, who, it will be remembered, had 
made their way to the back of the premises, that they were 
anxious to offer their services to Mistress Nutter ; and, as soon as 
this was told her, she ordered them to be admitted, and descended 
to give them welcome. Thus things wore a promising aspect for 
the besieged, while the assailing party were proportionately 
disheartened. 

Long ere this, Baldwyn and old Mitton had desisted from their 
attempts to break open the gate, and, indeed, rejoiced that such 
a barrier was interposed between them and the hounds, whose 
furious onslaughts they witnessed. A bolt was launched against 
these four-footed guardians of the premises by the bearer of the 
crossbow, but the man proved but an indifferent marksman, for, 
instead of hitting the hound, he disabled one of his companions 
who was battling with him. Finding things in this state, and 
that neither Nowell nor Potts returned to their charge, while their 
followers were withdrawn from before the gate, Nicholas thought 
he might fairly infer that a victory had been obtained. But, like 
a prudent leader, he did not choose to expose himself till the 
nemy had absolutely yielded, and he therefore signed to Black- 
adder and his men to come forth from the hall. The order was 
obeyed, not only by them, but by the seceders from the hostile 
troop, and some thirty men issued from the principal door, 
and, ranging themselves upon the lawn, set up a deafening 
and triumphant shout, very different from that raised by the same 
individuals when under the command of Nowell. At the same 
moment Mistress Nutter and Alizon appeared at the door, and at 
the sight of them the shouting was renewed. 

The unexpected turn in affairs had not been without its effect 
upon Richard and Alizon, and tended to revive the spirits of both. 
The immediate danger by which they were threatened had 
vanished, and time was given for the consideration of new plans. 
Richard had been firmly resolved to take no further part in the 
affray than should be required for the protection of Alizon, and, 
consequently, it was no little satisfaction to him to reflect that the 
victory had been accomplished without him, and by means which 
could not afterwards be questioned. 



292 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Meanwhile, Mistress Nutter had joined Nicholas, and the gates 
being unbarred by Blackadder, they passed through them. At a 
little distance stood Roger Nowell, now altogether abandoned, 
except by his own immediate followers, with Baldwyn and old 
Mitton. Poor Potts was lying on the ground, piteously bemoaning 
the lacerations his skin had undergone. 

" Well, you have got the worst of it, Master Nowell," said 
Nicholas, as he and Mistress Nutter approached the discomfited 
magistrate, tc and must own yourself fairly defeated." 

" Defeated as I am, I would rather be in my place than in yours, 
sir," retorted Nowell, sourly. 

" You have had a wholesome lesson read you, Master Nowell," 
said Mistress Nutter; " but I do not come hither to taunt you. 
I am quite satisfied with the victory I have obtained, and am 
anxious to put an end to the misunderstanding between us." 

u I have no misunderstanding with you, madam," replied 
Nowell; " I do not quarrel with persons like you. But be assured, 
though you may escape now, a day of reckoning will come." 

" Your chief cause of grievance against me, I am aware," 
replied Mistress Nutter, calmly, " is, that I have beaten you in 
the matter of the land. Now, I have a proposal to make to you 
respecting it." 

" I cannot listen to it," rejoined Nowell, sternly ; " I can have 
no dealings with a witch." 

At this moment his cloak was plucked behind by Potts, who 
looked at him as much as to say, " Do not exasperate her. Hear 
what she has got to offer." 

" I shall be happy to act as mediator between you, if possible," 
observed Nicholas ; rt but in that case I must request you, Master 
Nowell, to abstain from any offensive language/' 

"What is it you have to propose to me, then, madam?" 
demanded the magistrate, gruffly. 

*' Come with me into the house, and you shall hear," replied 
Mistress Nutter. 

Nowell was about to refuse peremptorily, when his cloak was 
again plucked by Potts, who whispered him to go. 

u This is not 'a snare laid to entrap me, madam?" he said, re 
garding the lady suspiciously. 

" I will answer for her good faith," interposed Nicholas. 

Nowell still hesitated, but the counsel of his legal adviser was 
enforced by a heavy shower of rain, which just then began to 
descend upon them. 

t6 You can take shelter beneath my roof," said Mistress Nutter; 
" and before the shower is over we can settle the matter." 

" And my wounds can be dressed at the same time," said Potts, 
a groan, " for they pain me sorely." 

" Blackadder has a sovereign balsam, which, with a patch or 
cwo of diachylon, will make all right," replied Nicholas, unable 



ROGER NOWELL AND HIS DOUBLE. 293 

to repress a laugh. " Here, lift him up between you," he added 
to the grooms, u and convey him into the house." 

The orders were obeyed, and Mistress Nutter led the way 
through the now wide-opened gates ; her slow and majestic 
march by no means accelerated by the drenching shower. What 
Roger NowelFs sensations were at following her in such a way, 
after his previous threats and boastings, may be easily conceived. 



CHAPTER X. ROGER NOWELL AND HIS DOUBLE. 

THE magistrate was ushered by the lady into a small chamber, 
opening out of the entrance-hall, which, in consequence of having 
only one small narrow window, with a clipped yew-tree before it, 
was extremely dark and gloomy. The walls were covered with 
sombre tapestry, and on entering, Mistress Nutter not only care 
fully closed the door, but drew the arras before it, so as to prevent 
the possibility of their conversation being heard outside. These 
precautions taken, she motioned the magistrate to a chair, and 
seated herself opposite him. 

" We can now deal unreservedly with each other, Master 
Nowell," she said, fixing her eyes steadily upon him ; " and, as 
our discourse cannot be overheard and repeated, may use perfect 
freedom of speech." 

6t I am glad of it," replied Nowell, " because it will save cir 
cumlocution, which I dislike; and therefore, before proceeding 
further, I must tell you, directly and distinctly, that if there be 
aught of witchcraft in what you are about to propose to me, I 
will have nought to do with it, and our conference may as well 
never begin." 

" Then you really believe me to be a witch?" said the lady. 

" I do," replied Nowell, unflinchingly. 

" Since you believe this, you must also believe that I have 
absolute power over you," rejoined Mistress Nutter, " and might 
strike you with sickness, cripple you, or kill you if I thought 
fit." 

" I know not that," returned Nowell. " There are limits even 
to the power of evil beings ; and your charms and enchantments, 
however strong and baneful, may be wholly inoperative against 
a magistrate in the discharge of his duty. If it were not so, you 
would scarcely think it worth while to treat with me." 

" Humph ! " exclaimed the lady. " Now, tell me frankly, what 
you will do when you depart hence ? " 

" Ride off with the utmost speed to Whalley," replied NoweU, 
" and, acquainting Sir Ralph with all that has occurred, claim his 
assistance ; and then, with all the force we can jointly muster, 
return hither, and finish the work I have left undone." 



294 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" You will forego this intention," said Mistress Nutter, with a 
bitter smile. 

The magistrate shook his head. 

" I am not easily turned from my purpose," he remarked. 

te But you have not yet quitted Rough Lee," said the lady, 
" and after such an announcement I shall scarce think of parting 
with you." 

" You dare not detain me," replied Nowell. " I have Nicholas 
Assheton's word for my security, and I know he will nof break 
it. Besides, you will gain nothing by my detention. My ab 
sence will soon be discovered, and if living I shall be set free ; if 
dead, avenged." 

" That may, or may not be," replied Mistress Nutter ; " and 
in any case I can, if I choose, wreak my vengeance upon you. I 
am glad to have ascertained your intentions, for I now know how 
to treat with you. You shah 1 not go hence, except on certain 
conditions. You have said you will proclaim me a witch, and will 
come back with sufficient force to accomplish my arrest. Instead 
of doing this, I advise you to return to Sir Ralph Assheton, and 
admit to him that you find yourself in error in respect to the 
boundaries of the land " 

" Never," interrupted Nowell. 

" I advise you to do this," pursued the lady, calmly, " and I 
advise you, also, on quitting this room, to retract aU you have 
uttered to my prejudice, in the presence of Nicholas Assheton 
and other credible witnesses ; in which case I will not only lay 
aside all feelings of animosity towards you, but will make over to 
you the whole of the land under dispute, and that without pur 
chase-money on your part. 

Roger Nowell was of an avaricious nature, and caught at the 
bait. 

" How, madam 1" he cried, " the whole of the land mine without 
payment?" 

<fc The whole," she replied. 

" If she should be arraigned and convicted it will be forfeited 
to the crown," thought Nowell ; " the offer is tempting." 

" Your attorney is here, and can prepare the conveyance at 
once," pursued Mistress Nutter ; " a sum can be stated to lend a 
colour to the proceeding, and I will give you a private memorandum 
that I will not claim it. All I require is, that you clear me 
completely from the dark aspersions cast upon my character, and 
you abandon your projects against my adopted daughter, Alizon, 
as well as against those two poor old women, Mothers Demdike 
and Chattox." 

ft How can I be sure that I shall not be deluded in the matter?" 
asked Nowell ; " the writing may disappear from the parchment 
you give me, or the parchment itself may turn to ashes. Such 
things have occurred in transactions with witches. Or it may 



ROGER NOWELL AND HIS DOUBLE. 295 

be that, by consenting to the compact, I may imperil my own 
soul.'' 

u Tush !" exclaimed Mistress Nutter; "these are idle fears 
But it is no idle threat on my part, when I tell you you shall net 
go forth unless you consent." 

" You cannot hinder me, woman," cried Nowell, rising. 

" You shall see," rejoined the lady, making two or three rapid 
passes before him, which instantly stiffened his limbs, and deprived 
him of the power of motion. " Now, stir if you can," she added 
with a laugh. 

Nowell essayed to cry out, but his tongue refused its office. 
Hearing and sight, however, were left him, and he saw Mistress 
Nutter take a large volume, bound in black, from the shelf, and 
open it at a page covered with cabalistic characters, after which 
she pronounced some words that sounded like an invocation. 

As she concluded, the tapestry against the wall was raised, and 
from behind it appeared a figure in all respects resembling the 
magistrate : it had the same sharp features, the same keen eyes 
and bushy eyebrows, the same stoop in the shoulders, the same 
habiliments. It was, in short, his double. 

Mistress Nutter regarded him with a look of triumph, 

" Since you refuse, with my injunctions," she said, "your 
double will prove more tractable. He will go forth and do all I 
would have you do, while I have but to stamp upon the. floor and 
a dungeon will yawn beneath your feet, where you will lie 
immured till doomsday. The same fate will attend your crafty 
associate, Master Potts so that neither of you will be missed 
ha! ha!" 

The unfortunate magistrate fully comprehended his danger, 
but he could now neither offer remonstrance nor entreaty. 
What was passing in his breast seemed known to Mistress Nutter ; 
for she motioned the double to stay, and, touching the brow of 
Nowell with the point of her forefinger, instantly restored his 
power of speech. 

" I will give you a last chance," she said. " Will you obey me 
now ? " 

"I must, perforce," replied Nowell: "the contest is too unequal." 

" You may retire, then," she cried to the double. And 
stepping backwards, the figure lifted up the tapestry, and dis 
appeared behind it. 

" I can breathe, now that infernal being is gone," cried Nowell, 
sinking into the chair. Oh ! madam, you have indeed terrible power." 

" You will do well not to brave it again," she rejoined. " Shall 
I summon Master Potts to prepare the conveyance !" 

" Oh ! no no !" cried Nowell. " I do not desire the land. I 
will not have it. I shall pay too dearly for it. Only let me get 
out of this horrible place ? " 

" Not so quickly, sir," rejoined Mistress Nutter. " Before you 



THE LANCASlilKE WITCHES. 



fo hence, I must bind you to the performance of my injunctions- 
roriounce these words after me, ' May I become subject to 
the Fiend if I fail in my promise.' " 

rt I will never utter them ! " cried No well, shuddering. 

" Then 1 shall recall your double," said the lady. 
u Hold, hold !" exclaimed Nowell. " Let me know what you 
require of me." 

" I require absolute silence on your part, as to all you have seen 
and heard here, and cessation of hostility towards me and the 
persons I have already named," replied Mistress Nutter ; 6i and I 
require a declaration from you, in the presence of the two Asshe- 
tons, that you are fully satisfied of the justice of my claims in 
respect to the land ; and that, mortified by your defeat, you have 
brought a false charge against me, which you now sincerely regret. 
This I require from you ; and you must ratify the promise by the 
abjuration I have proposed. ' May I become subject to the Fiend 
if I fail in my promise.' " 

The magistrate repeated the words after her. As he finished, 
mocking laughter, apparently resounding from below, smote his 
ears. 

" Enough !" cried Mistress Nutter, triumphantly ; (e and now 
take good heed that you swerve not in the slightest degree from 
your word, or you are for ever lost." 

Again the mocking laughter was heard, and Nowell would have 
rushed forth, if Mistress Nutter had not withheld him. 

" Stay !" she cried, " I have not done with you yet! My 
witnesses must hear your declaration. Remember!" 

And placing her finger upon her lips, in token of silence, she 
stepped backwards, drew aside the tapestry, and, opening the door, 
called to the two Asshetons, both of whom instantly came to her, 
and were not a little surprised to learn that all differences had 
been adjusted, and that Roger Nowell acknowledged himself 
entirely in error, retracting all the charges he had brought 
against her ; while, on her part, she was fully satisfied with his 
explanations and apologies, and promised not to entertain any 
feelings of resentment towards him. 

" You have made up the matter, indeed," cried Nicholas, u and, 
as Master Roger Nowell is a widower, perhaps a match may come 
of it. Such an arrangement " - 

" This is no occasion for jesting, Nicholas," interrupted the 
lady, sharply. 

" Nay, I but threw out a hint," rejoined the squire. " It would 
set the question of the land for ever at rest." 

" It is set at rest for ever !" replied the lady, with a side look 
at the magistrate. 

" ' May 1 become subject to the Fiend if I fail in my promise,' n 
repeated Nowell to himself. " Those words bind me like a chain 
ot iron. I mu^t get out ol thia accursed house as fust as I can." 



ROGER NOWELL AND HIS DOUBLE. 297 

As if his thoughts had been divined by Mistress Nutter, she 
here observed to him, " To make our reconciliation complete, 
Master Nowell, I must entreat you to pass the day with me. I 
will give you the best entertainment my house affords nay, I will 
take no denial; and you too, Nicholas, and you, Richard, you 
will stay and keep the worthy magistrate company." 

The two Asshetons willingly assented, but Roger Nowell would 
fain have been excused. A look, however, from his hostess 
enforced compliance. 

" The proposal will be highly agreeable, I am sure, to Master 
Potts," remarked Nicholas, with a laugh ; 6f for though much 
better, in consequence of the balsam applied by Blackadder, he is 
scarcely in condition for the saddle." 

" I will warrant him well to-morrow morning," said Mistress 
Nutter. 

" Where is he ?" inquired Nowell. 

" In the library with Parson Holden," replied Nicholas ; 
" making himself as comfortable as circumstances will permit, 
with a flask of Rhenish before him." 

" I will go to him, then," said Nowell. 

" Take care what you say to him," observed Mistress Nutter, 
in a low tone, and raising her finger to her lips. 

Heaving a deep sigh, the magistrate then repaired to the 
library, a small room panelled with black oak, and furnished with 
a few cases of ancient tomes. The attorney and the divine were 
seated at a table, with a big square-built bottle and long-stemmed 
glasses before them, and Master Potts, with a wry grimace, 
excused himself from rising on his respected and singular good 
client's approach. 

' Do not disturb yourself," said Nowell, gruffly ; " we shall not 
leave Rough Lee to-day." 

" I am glad to hear it," replied Potts, moving the cushions on 
his chair and eyeing the square-built bottle affectionately. 

" Nor to-morrow, it may be nor the day after nor at all, 
possibly," said Nowell. 

"Indeed!" exclaimed Potts, starting, and wincing with pain. 
"What is the meaning of all this, worthy sir?" 

" < May I become the subject of the Fiend if I fail in my pro 
mise,'" rejoined Nowell, with a groan. 

"What promise, worshipful sir?" cried Potts, staring with 
lurprise. 

The magistrate got out the words, " My promise to " and then 
he stopped suddenly. 

" To Mistress Nutter?" suggested Potts. 

" Don't ask me," exclaimed Nowell, fiercely. " Don't draw 
any erroneous conclusions, man. I mean nothing I say nothing ! " 

" He is certainly bewitched," observed Parson Holden in an 
under-toiie t<> the attorney. 



298 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" It was by your advice I entered this house," thundered Nowell, 
" and may all the ill arising from it alight upon your head !" 

s( My respected client ! " implored Potts. 

te I am no longer your client ! " shrieked the infuriated magis 
trate. " I dismiss you. I will have nought to do with you more. 
I wish I had never seen your ugly little face ! " 

" You were quite right, reverend sir," observed Potts aside to 
the divine ; " he is certainly bewitched, or he never would behave 
in this way to his best friend. My excellent sir," he added to 
Nowell, u I beseech you to calm yourself, and listen to me. My 
motive for wishing you to comply with Mistress -Nutter's request 
was this : We were in a dilemma from which there was no escape, 
my wounded condition preventing me from flight, and all your 
followers being dispersed. Knowing your discretion, I apprehend 
ed that, finding the tables turned against you, you would not 
desire to play a losing game, and I therefore counselled apparent 
submission as the best means of disarming your antagonist. What 
ever arrangement you have made with Mistress Nutter is neither 
morally nor legally binding upon you." 

" You think not !" cried Nowell. " 'May I become subject t 
the Fiend if I violate my promise !' * 

u What promise have you made, sir?" inquired Potts and 
Holden together. 

rt Do not question me," cried Nowell; " it is sufficient that I am 
tied and bound by it." 

The attorney reflected a little, and then observed to Holden, 
" It is evident some unfair practices have been resorted to with 
our respected friend, to extort a promise from him which he can 
not violate. It is also possible, from what he let fall at first, that 
an attempt may be made to detain us prisoners within this house, 
and, for aught I know, Master Nowell may have given his word 
not to go forth without Mistress Nutter's permission. Under these 
circumstances, I would beg of you, reverend sir, as an especial 
favour to us both, to ride over to W'halley, and acquaint Sir 
Ralph Assheton with our situation." 

As this suggestion was made, NowelPs countenance brightened 
up. The expression was not lost upon the attorney, who perceived 
he was on the right tack. 

" Tell the worthy baronet," continued Potts, " that his old and 
esteemed friend, Master Roger Nowell, is in great jeopardy am 
I not right, sir ? " 

The magistrate nodded. 

" Tell him he is forcibly detained a prisoner, and requires suf 
ficient force to effect his immediate liberation. Tell him, also, 
that Master Nowell charges Mistress Nutter with robbing him of 
his land by witchcraft." 

" No, no !" interrupted Nowell; " do not tell him that. I no 
longer charge her with it." 



MOTHER DEMDIKE. 299 

" Then, tell him that I do," cried Potts ; and that Master 
Nowell has strangely, very strangely, altered his mind." 

u * May I become subject to the Fiend if I violate my promise !' " 
said the magistrate. 

" Ay, tell him that," cried the attorney " tell him the worthy 
gentleman is constantly repeating that sentence. It will explain 
all. And now, reverend sir, let me entreat you to set out without 
delay, or your departure may be prevented." 

" I will go at once," said Holden. 

As he was about to quit the apartment, Mistress Nutter ap 
peared at the door. Confusion was painted on the countenances 
of all three. 

" Whither go you, sir?" demanded the lady, sharply. 

(( On a mission which cannot be delayed, madam," replied 
Holden. 

" You cannot quit my house at present," she rejoined, peremp 
torily. u These gentlemen stay to dine with me, and I cannot 
dispense with your company." 

" My duty calls me hence," returned the divine. " With all 
thanks for your proffered hospitality, I must perforce decline it." 

<( Not when I command you to stay," she rejoined, raising her 
hand ; " I am absolute mistress here." 

" Not over the servants of heaven, madam," replied the divine, 
taking a Bible from his pocket, and placing it before him. u By 
this sacred volume I shield myself against your spells, and com 
mand you to let me pass." 

And as he went forth, Mistress Nutter, unable to oppose him, 
shrank back. 



CHAPTER XI. MOTHER DEMDIKE. 

THE heavy rain, which began to fall as Roger Nowell entered 
Rough Lee, had now ceased, and the sun shone forth again bril 
liantly, making the garden look so fresh and beautiful that Richard 
proposed a stroll within it to Alizon. The young girl seemed 
doubtful at first whether to comply with the invitation ; but she 
finally assented, and they went forth together alone, for Nicholas, 
fancying they could dispense with his company, only attended 
them as far as the door, where he remained looking after them, 
laughing to himself, and wondering how matters would end. " No 
good will come of it, I fear," mused the worthy squire, shaking 
his head, u and I am scarcely doing right in allowing Dick to en 
tangle himself in this fashion. But where is the use of giving 
advice to a young man who is over head and ears in love ? He 
will never listen to it, and will only resent interference. Dick 
must take his chance. I have already pointed out the danger to 



300 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

him, and if he chooses to run headlong into the pit, why, I cannot 
hinder him. After all, I am not much surprised. Alizon's beauty 
is quite irresistible, and, were all smooth and straightforward in 
her history, there could be no reason why pshaw ! I am as foolish 
as the lad himself. Sir Richard Assheton, the proudest man in 
the shire, would disown his son if he married against his inclina 
tions. No, my pretty youthful pair, since nothing but misery 
awaits you, I advise you to make the most of your brief season 
of happiness. I should certainly do so were the case my own." 

Meanwhile, the objects of these ruminations had reached the 
terrace overlooking Pendle Water, and were pacing slowly back 
wards and forwards along it. 

" One might be very happy in this sequestered spot, Alizon," 
observed Richard. " To some persons it might appear dull, but 
to me, if blessed with you, it would be little short of Paradise." 

"Alas! Richard," she replied, forcing a smile, "why conjure 
up visions of happiness which never can be realised ? But even 
with you I do not think I could be happy here. There is some 
thing about the house which, when I first beheld it, filled me with 
unaccountable terror. Never since I was a mere infant have I 
been within it till to-day, and yet it was quite familiar to me 
horribly familiar. I knew the hall in which we stood together, 
with its huge arched fireplace, and the armorial bearings upon it, 
and could point out the stone on which were carved my father's 
initials < R. N.,' with the date ' 157 2.' I knew the tapestry on 
the walls, and the painted glass in the loiig range windows. I 
knew the old oak staircase, and the gallery beyond it, and the 
room to which my mother led me. I knew the portraits painted 
on the panels, and at once recognised my father. I knew the 
great carved oak bedstead in this room, and the high chimney- 
piece, and the raised hearthstone, and shuddered as I gazed at it. 
You will ask me how these things could be familiar to me ? I 
will tell you. I had seen them repeatedly in my dreams. They 
have haunted me for years, but I only to-day knew they had an 
actual existence, or were in any way connected with my own 
history. The sight of that house inspired me with a horror I have 
not been able to overcome ; and I have a presentiment that some 
ill will befall me within it. I would never willingly dwell there.' 

" The warning voice within you, which should never be despised, 
prompts you to quit it," cried Richard ; u and 1 also urge you in 
like manner." 

" In vain," sighed Alizon. " This terrace is beautiful," she 
added, as they resumed their walk, " and I shah 1 often come 
hither, if I am permitted. At sunset, this river, and the woody 
heights above it, must be enchanting ; and I do not dislike the 
savage character of the surrounding scenery. It enhances, by 
contrast, the beauty of this solitude. I only wish the spot com 
manded a view of Pendle Hill." 



MOTHER DEMDIKE. 301 

"You are like my cousin Nicholas, who thinks no prospect 
complete unless that hill forms part of it," said Richard ; " but 
since I find that you will often come hither at sunset, I shall not 
despair of seeing and conversing with you again, even if I am 
forbidden the house by Mistress Nutter. That thicket is an ex 
cellent hiding-place, and this stream is easily crossed." 

tf We can have no secret interviews, Richard," replied Alizon ; 
" I shall come hither to think of you, but not to meet you. You 
must never return to Rough Lee again that is, not unless some 
change takes place, which I dare not anticipate but, hist ! I am 
called. I must go back to the house." 

" The voice came from the other side of the river," said 
Richard " and, hark ! it calls again. Who can it be?" 
" It is Jennet," replied Alizon ; " I see her now." 
And she pointed out the little girl standing beside an alder on 
the opposite bank. 

" Yo didna notice me efore, Alizon," cried Jennet in her sharp 
tone, and with her customary provoking laugh, " boh ey seed yo 
plain enuff, an heer'd yo too ; and ey heer'd Mester Ruchot say 
he wad hide i' this thicket, an cross the river to meet ye at sun 
set. Little pigs, they say, ha' lang ears, an mine werena gi'en 
me fo' nowt." 

" They have somewhat misinformed you in this instance," re 
plied Alizon ; " but how, in the name of wonder, did you come 
here?" 

u Varry easily," replied Jennet, ts boh ey hanna time to tell ye 
now. Granny Demdike has sent me hither wi' a message to ye 
and Mistress Nutter. Boh may be ye winna loike Mester Ruchot 
to hear what ey ha' getten to tell ye." 

u I will leave you," said Richard, about to depart. 
" Oh ! no, no ! " cried Alizon, " she can have nothing to say 
which you may not hear." 

ec Shan ey go back to Granny Demdike, an tell her yo're too 
proud to receive her message?" asked the child. 

" On no account," whispered Richard. " Do not let her anger 
the old hag." 

" Speak, Jennet," said Alizon, in a tone of kind persuasion. 
" Ey shanna speak onless ye cum ower t' wetur to me," replied 
the little girl; " an whot ey ha to tell consarns ye mitch." 

u I can easily cross," observed Alizon to Richard. ft Those 
stones seem placed on purpose." 

Upon this, descending from the terrace to the river's brink, 
and springing lightly upon the first stone which reared its head 
above the foaming tide, sLj bounded to another, and so in an 
instant was across the stream. Richard saw her ascend the 
opposite bank, and appsoach Jennet, who withdrew behind the 
ter ; and then he fancied he perceived an old beldame, partly 



302 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

concealed by the intervening branches of the tree, advance and 
seize hold of her. Then there was a scream ; and the sound had 
scarcely reached the young man's ears before he was down the 
bank and across the river, but when he reached the alder, neither 
Alizon, nor Jennet, nor the old beldame were to be seen. 

The terrible conviction that she had been carried off by 
Mother Demdike then smote him, and though he continued 
his search for her among the adjoining bushes, it was vvitjj fearful 
misgivings. No answer was returned to his shouts, nor could he 
discover any trace of the means by which Alizon had been spirited 
away. 

After some time spent in ineffectual search, uncertain what 
course to pursue, and with a heart full of despair, Richard crossed 
the river, and proceeded towards the house, in front of which he 
found Mistress Nutter and Nicholas, both of whom seemed sur 
prised when they perceived he was unaccompanied by Alizon. 
The lady immediately, and somewhat sharply, questioned him as 
to what had become of her adopted daughter, and appeared at 
first to doubt his answer; but at length, unable to question his 
sincerity, she became violently agitated. 

66 The poor girl has been conveyed away by Mother Demdike," 
she cried, u though for what purpose I am at a loss to conceive. 
The old hag could not cross the running water, and therefore 
resorted to that stratagem." 

'* Alizon must not be left in her hands, madam," said Richard. 

" She must not," replied the lady. " If Blackadder, whom I 
have sent after Parson Holden, were here, I would despatch him 
instantly to Malkin Tower." 

rt I mil go instead," said Richard. 

" You had better accept his offer," interposed Nicholas ; " he 
will serve you as well as Blackadder." 

" Go I shall, madam," cried Richard; " if not on your account, 
on my own." 

" Come, then, with me," said the lady, entering the house, 
" and I will furnish you with that which shall be your safeguard 
in the enterprise." 

With this, she proceeded to the closet where her interview 
with Roger Nowell had been held; and, unlocking an ebony 
cabinet, took from a drawer within it a small flat piece of gold, 
graven with mystic characters, and having a slender chain of the 
same metal attached to it. Throwing the chain over Richard's 
neck, she said, " Place this talisman, which is of sovereign virtue, 
near your heart, and no witchcraft shall have power over you. 
But be careful that you are not by any artifice deprived of it, for 
the old hag will soon discover that you possess some charm to 
protect you against her spells. You are impatient to be gone, 
but I have not yet done," she continued, taking down a small 



MOTHER DEMDIKE. 303 

silver bugle from a hook, and giving it. him. " On reaching 
Malkin Tower, wind this horn thrice, and the old witch will 
appear at the upper window. Demand admittance in my name, 
and she will not dare to refuse you ; or, if she does, tell her you 
know the secret entrance to her stronghold, and will have 
recourse to it. And in case this should be needful, I will now 
disclose it to you, but you must not use it till other means fail. 
When opposite the door, which you will find is high up in the 
building, take ten paces to the left, and if you examine the 
masonry at the foot of the tower, you will perceive one stone 
somewhat darker than the rest. At the bottom of this stone, 
and concealed by a patch of heath, you will discover a knob of 
iron. Touch it, and it will give you an opening to a vaulted 
chamber, whence you can mount to the upper room. Even then 
you may experience some difficulty, but with resolution you will 
surmount all obstacles." 

" I have no fear of success, madam," replied Richard, confi 
dently. 

And quitting her, he proceeded to the stables, and calling foi 
his horse, vaulted into the saddle, and galloped off towards the 
bridge. 

Fast as Richard rode up the steep hill-side, still faster did the 
black clouds gather over his head. No natural cause could have 
produced so instantaneous a change in the aspect of the sky, and 
the young man viewed it with uneasiness, and wished to get out 
of the thicket in which he was now involved, before the threat 
ened thunder-storm commenced. But the hill was steep and the 
road bad, being full of loose stones, and crossed in many places 
by bare roots of trees. Though ordinarily surefooted, Merlin 
stumbled frequently, and Richard was obliged to slacken his 
pace. It grew darker and darker, and the storm seemed ready 
to burst upon him. The smaller birds ceased singing, and 
screened themselves under the thickest foliage ; the pie chattered 
incessantly; the jay screamed; the bittern flew past, booming 
heavily in the air ; the raven croaked ; the heron arose from the 
river, and speeded off with his long neck stretched out ; and the 
falcon, who had been hovering over him, sweeped sidelong down 
and sought shelter beneath an impending rock; the rabbit scudded 
off to his burrow in the brake ; and the hare, erecting himself for 
a moment, as if to listen to the note of danger, crept timorously 
off into the long dry grass, 

It grew so dark at last that the road was difficult to discern, 
and the dense rows of trees on either side assumed a fantastic ap 
pearance in the d eep gloom. Richard was now more than half 
way up the hill, and the thicket had become more tangled and 
intricate, and the road narrower and more rugged. All at once 
Merlin stopped, quivering in every limb, as if in extremity of 
error. 



304 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Before the rider, and right in his path, glared a pair of red fiery 
orbs, with something dusky and obscure linked to them; but 
whether of man or beast he could not distinguish. 

Richard called to it. No answer. He struck spurs into the 
reeking flanks of his horse. The animal refused to stir. Just 
then there was a moaning sound in the wood, as of some one in 
pain. He turned in the direction, shouted, but received no answer. 
When he looked back the red eyes were gone. 

Then Merlin moved forward of his own accord, but ere he had 
gone far, the eyes were visible again, glaring at the rider from the 
wood. This time they approached, dilating, and increasing in 
glowing intensity, till they scorched him like burning-glasses. Be 
thinking him of the talisman, Richard drew it forth. The light 
was instantly extinguished, and the indistinct figure accompany 
ing it melted into darkness. 

Once more Merlin resumed his toilsome way, and Richard was 
marvelling that the storm so long suspended its fury, when the 
sky was riven by a sudden blaze, and a crackling bolt shot down 
and struck the earth at his feet. The affrighted steed reared aloft, 
and was with difficulty prevented from falling backwards upon his 
rider. Almost before he could be brought to his feet, an awful peal 
of thunder burst overhead, and it required Richard's utmost efforts 
to prevent him from rushing madly down the hill. 

The storm had now fairly commenced. Flash followed flash, 
and peal succeeded peal, without intermission. The rain descended 
hissing and spouting, and presently ran down the hill in a torrent, 
adding to the horseman's other difficulties and dangers. To 
heighten the terror of the scene, strange shapes, revealed by the 
lightning, were seen flitting among the trees, and strange suunds 
were heard, though overpowered by the dreadful rolling of the 
thunder. 

But Richard's resolution continued unshaken, and he forced 
Merlin on. He had not proceeded far, however, when the animal 
uttered a cry of fright, and began beating the air with his fore hoofs. 
The lightning enabled Richard to discern the cause of this new 
distress. Coiled round the poor beast's legs, all whose efforts to 
disengage himself from the terrible assailant were ineffectual, was 
a large black snake, seemingly about to plunge its poisonous fangs 
into the flesh. Again having recourse to the talisman, and bend 
ing down, Richard stretched it towards the snake, upon which the 
reptile instantly darted its arrow-shaped head against him, but 
instead of wounding him, its forked teeth encountered the piece 
of gold, and, as if stricken a violent blow, it swiftly untwined it 
self, and fled, hissing, into the thicket. 

Richard was now obliged to dismount and lead his horse. In 
this way he toiled slowly up the hill. The storm continued with 
unabated tury: the red lightning played around him, the brattling 
thunder stunned him, and the pelting rain poured down upon his 



MOTHER DEMDIKE. 305 

head. But he was no more molested. Save for the vivid flashes, 
it had become dark as night, but they served to guide him on 
his way. 

At length he got out of the thicket, and trod upon the turf, 
but it was rendered so slippery by moisture, that he could scarcely 
keep his feet, while the lightning no longer aided him. Fearing 
he had taken a wrong course, he stood still, and while debating 
with himself a blaze of light illumined the wide heath, and showed 
him the object of his search, Malkin Tower, standing alone, like 
a beacon, at about a quarter of a mile's distance, on the further 
side of the hill. Was it disturbed fancy, or did he really behold 
on the summit of the structure a grisly shape resembling if it 
resembled any thing human a gigantic black cat, with rough 
ened staring skin, and flaming eyeballs ? 

Nerved by the sight of the tower, Richard was on his steed's 
back in an instant, and the animal, having in some degree recover 
ed his spirits, galloped off with him, and kept his feet in spite of 
the slippery state of the road. Erelong, another flash showed 
the young man that he was drawing rapidly near the tower, and 
dismounting, he tied Merlin to a tree, and hurried towards the 
unhallowed pile. When within twenty paces of it, mindful of 
Mistress Nutter's injunctions, he placed the bugle to his lips, and 
winded it thrice. The summons, though clear and loud, sounded 
strangely in the portentous silence. 

Scarcely had the last notes died away, when a light shone 
through the dark red curtains hanging before a casement in the 
upper part of the tower. The next moment these were drawn 
aside, and a face appeared, so frightful, so charged with infernal 
wickedness and malice, that Richard's blood grew chill at the sight. 
Was it man or woman ? The white beard, and the large, broad, 
masculine character of the countenance, seemed to denote the 
former, but the garb was that of a female. The face was at once 
hideous and fantastic the eyes set across the mouth awry the 
right cheek marked by a mole shining with black hair, and hor 
rible from its contrast to the rest of the visage, and the brow 
branded as if by a streak of blood. A black thrum cap constituted 
the old witch's head- gear, and from beneath it her hoary hair 
escaped in long elf-locks. The lower part of her person was hidden 
from view, but she appeared to be as broad-shouldered as a man, 
and her bulky person was wrapped in a tawny-coloured robe. 
Throwing open the window, she looked forth, and demanded in 
harsh imperious tones 

** Who dares to summon Mother Demdike 1" 

" A messenger from Mistress Nutter," replied Richard. u I 
am come in her name to demand the restitution of Alizon Device, 
whom thou hast forcibly and wrongfully taken from her." 

u Alizon Device is my grand-daughter, and, as such, belongs to 
me, and not to Mistress Nutter," rejoined Mother Demdike. 

x 



306 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Thou knowest thou speakest false, foul hag !" cried Richard. 
" Alizon is no blood of thine. Open the door and cast down the 
ladder, or I will find other means of entrance." 

" Try them, then," rejoined Mother Demdike. And she closed 
the casement sharply, and drew the curtains over it. 

After reconnoitring the building for a moment, Richard moved 
quickly to the left, and counting ten paces, as directed by Mis 
tress Nutter, began to search among the thick grass growing near 
the base of the tower for the concealed entrance. It was ttfo dark 
to distinguish any difference in the colour of the masonry, but he 
was sure he could not be far wrong, and presently his hand came 
in contact with a knob of iron. He pressed it, but it did not yield 
to the touch. Again more forcibly, but with like ill success. 
Could he be mistaken ? He tried the next stone, and discovered 
another knob upon it, but this was as immovable as the first. He 
went on, and then found that each stone was alike, and that if 
amongst the number he had chanced upon the one worked by the 
secret spring, it had refused to act. On examining the structure 
so far as he was able to do in the gloom, he found he had de 
scribed the whole circle of the tower, and was about to commence 
the search anew, when a creaking sound was heard above, and a 
light streamed suddenly down upon him. The door had been 
opened by the old witch, and she stood there with a lamp in her 
hand, its yellow flame illumining her hideous visage, and short, 
square, powerfully built frame. Her throat was like that of a bull ; 
her hands of extraordinary size ; and her arms, which were bare to 
the shoulder, brawny and muscular. 

"What, still outside?" she cried in a jeering tone, and with a 
wild discordant laugh. " Methought thou affirmedst thou couldst 
find a way into my dwelling." 

" I do not yet despair of finding it," replied Richard. 

" Fool ! " screamed the hag. " I tell thee it is in vain to at 
tempt it without my consent. With a word, I could make these 
walls one solid mass, without window or outlet from base to sum 
mit. With a word, I could shower stones upon thy head, and 
crush thee to dust. With a word, I could make the earth swallow 
thee up. With a word, I could whisk thee hence to the top of 
Pendle Hill. Ha ! ha ! Dost fear me now ? " 

" No," replied Richard, undauntedly. " And the word thou 
menacest me with shall never be uttered." 

" Why not ? " asked Mother Demdike, derisively. 

" Because thou wouldst not brave the resentment of one whose 
power is equal to thine own if not greater," replied the young 
man. 

" Greater it is not neither equal," rejoined the old hag, 
haughtily ; " but I do not desire a quarrel with Alice Nutter. 
Only let her not meddle with me." 

" Once more, art thou willing to admit me I" demanded Richard. 



MOTHER DEMDIKE. 307 

u Ay, upon one condition," replied Mother Demdike. " Thou 
shalt learn it anon. Stand aside while I let down the ladder." 

Richard obeyed, and a pair of narrow wooden steps dropped to 
the ground. 

" Now mount, if thou hast the courage," cried the hag. 

The young man was instantly beside her, but she stood in the 
doorway, and barred his further progress with her extended staff. 
Now that he was face to face with her, he wondered at his own 
temerity. There was nothing human in her countenance, and 
infernal light gleamed in her strangely-set eyes. Her personal 
strength, evidently unimpaired by age, or preserved by magical 
art, seemed equal to her malice ; and she appeared as capable of 
executing any atrocity, as of conceiving it. She saw the effect 
produced upon him, and chuckled with malicious satisfaction. 

" Saw'st thou ever face like mine ? " she cried. " No, I wot 
not. But I would rather inspire aversion and terror than love. 
Love ! foh ! I would rather see men shrink from me, and shudder 
at my approach, than smile upon me and court me. I would 
rather freeze the blood in their veins, than set it boiling with 
passion. Ho ! ho !" 

" Thou art a fearful being, indeed !" exclaimed Richard, appalled. 

" Fearful, am I?" ejaculated the old witch, with renewed 
laughter. u At last thou own'st it. Why, ay, I am fearful. It 
is my wish to be so. I live to plague mankind to blight and 
blast them to scare them with my looks to work them mischief. 
Ho ! ho ! And now, let us look at thee," she continued, holding 
the lamp over him. u Why, soh ? a comely youth ! And the 
young maids doat upon thee, I doubt not, and praise thy blooming 
cheeks, thy bright eyes, thy flowing locks, and thy fine limbs. I 
hate thy beauty, boy, and would mar it ! would canker thy 
wholesome flesh, dim thy lustrous eyes, and strike thy vigorous 
limbs with palsy, till they should shake like mine ! I am half- 
minded to do it," she added, raising her staff, and glaring at him 
with inconceivable malignity. 

"Hold!" exclaimed Richard, taking the talisman from his 
breast, and displaying it to her. " I am armed against thy malice ! " 

Mother Derndike's staff fell from her grasp. 

" I knew thou wert in some way protected," she cried furiously. 
" And so it is a piece of gold with magic characters upon it, 
eh 1 " she added, suddenly changing her tone ; " Let me look at it." 

" Thou seest it plain enough," rejoined Richard. " Now, stand 
aside and let me pass, for thou perceivest I have power to force 
an entrance." 

" I see it I see it," replied Mother Demdike, with affected 
humility. " I see it is in vain to struggle with thee, or rather 
with the potent lady who sent thee. Tarry where thou art, and 
I will bring Alizon to thee." 

" I almost mistrust thee," said Richard " but be speedy." 



308 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" I will be scarce a moment," said the witch ; " but I must 
warn thee that she is " 

" What what hast thou done to her, thou wicked hag ? " cried 
Richard, in alarm. 

" She is distraught," said Mother Demdike. 

" Distraught 1" echoed Richard. 

" But thou canst easily cure her," said the old hag, significantly. 

" Ay, so I can," cried Richard with sudden joy " the talisman ! 
Bring her to me at once." 

Mother Demdike departed, leaving him in a state of indescrib 
able agitation. The walls of the tower were of immense thickness, 
and the entrance to the chamber towards which the arched 
doorway led was covered by a curtain of old arras, behind which 
the hag had disappeared. Scarcely had she entered the room 
when a scream was heard, and Richard heard his own name 
pronounced by a voice which, in spite of its agonised tones, he at 
once recognised. The cries were repeated, and he then heard 
Mother Demdike call out, " Corne hither ! come hither ! " 

Instantly rushing forward and dashing aside the tapestry, he 
found himself in a mysterious-looking circular chamber, with a 
massive oak table in the midst of it. There were many strange 
objects in the room, but he saw only Alizon, who was struggling 
with the old witch, and clinging desperately to the table. He 
called to her by name as he advanced, but her bewildered looks 
proved that she did not know him. 

u Alizon dear Alizon 1 I am come to free you," he exclaimed* 

But in place of answering him she uttered a piercing scream. 

" The talisman, the talisman?" cried the hag. "I cannot 
undo my own work. Place the chain round her neck, and the 
gold near her heart, that she may experience its full virtue." 

Richard unsuspectingly complied with the suggestion of the 
temptress ; but the moment he had parted with the piece of gold 
the figure of Alizon vanished, the chamber was buried in gloom, 
and, amidst a hubbub of wild laughter, he was dragged by the 
powerful arm of the witch through the arched doorway, and flung 
from it to the ground, the shock of the fall producing immediate 
insensibility. 



CHAPTER XII. THE MYSTERIES OF MALKIN TOWER. 

IT was a subterranean chamber ; gloomy, and of vast extent , 
the roof low, and supported by nine ponderous stone columns, to 
which rings and rusty chains were attached, still retaining tha 
mouldering bones of those they had held captive in life. Amongst 
others was a gigantic skeleton, quite entire, with an iron girdle 
round the middle. Fragments of mortality were elsewhere scat- 



THE MYSTERIES OF MALKIN TOWER. 309 

tered about, showing the numbers who had perished in the place. 
On either side were cells closed by massive doors, secured by bolts 
and locks. At one end were three immense coffers made of oak, 
hooped with iron, and fattened by large padlocks. Near them 
stood a large armoury, likewise of oak, and sculptured with the 
ensigns of Whalley Abbey, proving it had once belonged to that 
establishment. Probably it had been carried off by some robber 
band. At the opposite end of the vault were two niches, each 
occupied by a rough-hewn statue the one representing a warlike 
figure, with a visage of extraordinary ferocity, and the other an 
anchoress, in her hood and wimple, with a rosary in her hand. 
On the ground beneath lay a plain flag, covering the mortal 
remains of the wicked pair, and proclaiming them to be Isole de 
Heton and Blackburn, the freebooter. The pillars were ranged 
in three lines, so as to form, with the arches above them, a series 
of short passages, in the midst of which stood an altar, and near 
it a large caldron. In front, elevated on a block of granite, was 
a marvellous piece of sculpture, wrought in jet, and representing 
a demon seated on a throne. The visage was human, but the 
beard that of a goat, while the feet and lower limbs were like 
those of the same animal. Two curled horns grew behind the 
ears, and a third, shaped like a conch, sprang from the centre of 
the forehead, from which burst a blue flame, throwing a ghastly 
light on the objects surrounding it. 

The only discernible approach to the vault was a steep narrow 
stone staircase, closed at the top by a heavy trapdoor. Other out 
let apparently there was none. Some little air was admitted to this 
foul abode through flues contrived in the walls, the entrances 
to which were grated, but the light of day never came there. 
The flame, however, issuing from the brow of the demon image, 
like the lamps in the sepulchres of the disciples of the Rosy Cross, 
was ever-burning. Behind the sable statue was a deep well, 
with water as black as ink, wherein swarmed snakes, and toads, 
and other noxious reptiles ; and as the lurid light fell upon its 
surface it glittered like a dusky mirror, unless when broken by 
the horrible things that lurked beneath, or crawled about upon its 
slimy brim. But snakes and toads were not the only tenants of 
the vault. At the head of the steps squatted a monstrous and 
misshapen animal, bearing some resemblance to a cat, but as big 
as a tiger. Its skin was black and shaggy ; its eyes glowed like 
those of the hyasna ; and its cry was like that of the fame 
treacherous beast. Among the gloomy colonnades other swart 
and bestial shapes could be indistinctly seen moving to and fro. 

In this abode of horror were two human beings one, a young 
maiden of exquisite beauty ; and the other, almost a child, and 
strangely deformed. The elder, overpowered by terror, was 
clinging to a pillar for support, while the younger, who might 



310 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

naturally be expected to exhibit the greatest alarm, appeared 
wholly unconcerned, and derided her companion's fears. 

" Oh, Jennet !" exclaimed the elder of the two, " is there no 
means of escape?" 

" None whatever," replied the other. " Yo mun stay here till 
Granny Demdike cums fo ye." 

" Oh ! that the earth would open and snatch me from these 
horrors," cried Alizon. " My reason is forsaking me. Would I 
could kneel and pray for deliverance ! But something pre 
vents me." 

" Reet ! " replied Jennet. (t It's os mitch os yer loife's worth 
to kneel an pray here, onless yo choose to ge an throw yersel at 
th' feet o' yon black image." 

"Kneel to that idol never!" exclaimed Alizon. And while 
striving to call upon heaven for aid, a sharp convulsion seized her, 
and deprived her of the power of utterance. 

" Ey towd yo how it wad be," remarked Jennet, who watched 
her narrowly. " Yo 're neaw i' a church here, an if yo want to 
warship, it mun be at yon altar. Dunna yo hear how angry the 
cats are how they growl an spit ? An see how their een gliss'n ! 
They'll tare yo i' pieces, loike so many tigers, if yo offend em." 

st Tell me why I am brought here, Jennet?" inquired Alizon, 
after a brief pause. 

tf Granny Demdike will tell yo that," replied the little girl ; 
(t boh to my belief," she added, with a mocking laugh, " hoo 
means to may a witch o' ye, loike aw the rest on, us." 

" She cannot do that without my consent," cried Alizon, " and 
I would die a thousand deaths rather than yield it." 

" That remains to be seen," replied Jennet, tauntingly. " Yo 're 
obstinate enuff, nah doubt. Boh Granny Demdike is used to 
deal wi' sich folk." 

" Oh ! why was I born ?" cried Alizon, bitterly. 

" Yo may weel ask that," responded Jennet, with a loud un 
feeling laugh ; u fo ey see neaw great use yo're on, wi' yer protty 
feace an bright een, onless it be to may one hate ye." 

" Is it possible you can say this to me. Jennet ?" cried Alizon. 
u What have I done to incur your hatred ? I have ever loved 
you, and striven to please and serve you. I have always taken 
your part against others, even when you were in the wrong. Oh ! 
Jennet, you cannot hate me." 

" Boh ey do," replied the little girl, spitefully. " Ey hate yo 
now warser than onny wan else. Ey hate yo because yo are 
neaw lunger my sister becose yo 're a grand ledy's dowter, an 
a grand ledy yersel. Ey hate yo becose yung Ruchot Assheton 
loves yo an becose yo ha better luck i' aw things than ey have, 
or con expect to have. That's why I hate yo, Alizon. When 
yo are a witch ey shan love yo, for then we shan be equals once 






THE MYSTERIES OF MALKIX TOWER 311 

" That will never be, Jennet," said Alizon, sadly, but firmly. 
" Your grandmother may immure me in this dungeon, and scare 
away my senses ; but she will never rob me of my hopes of 
salvation." 

As the words were uttered, a clang like that produced by a 
stricken gong shook the vault ; the beasts roared fiercely ; the 
black waters of the fountain bubbled up, and were lashed into 
foam by the angry reptiles ; and a larger jet of flame than before 
burst from the brow of the demon statue. 

" Ey ha' warned ye, Alizon," said Jennet, alarmed by these 
demonstrations ; " boh since ye pay no heed to owt ey say, ey'st 
leave yo to yer fate." 

" Oh ! stay with me, stay with me, Jennet !" shrieked Alizon. 
fl By our past sisterly affection I implore you to remain ! You 
are some protection to me from these dreadful beings." 

" Ey dunna want to protect yo onless yo do os yo're bidd'n," 
replied Jennet ! " Whoy should yo be better than me ?" 

"Ah! why, indeed?" cried Alizon. "Would I had the 
power to turn your heart to open your eyes to evil to save 
you, Jennet." 

These words were followed by another clang, louder and more 
brattling than the first. The solid walls of the dungeon were 
shaken, and the heavy columns rocked; while, to Alizon's 
affrighted gaze, it seemed as if the sable statue arose upon its 
ebon throne, and stretched out its arm menacingly towards her. 
The poor girl was saved from further terror by insensibility. 

How long she remained in this condition she could not tell, nor 
did it appear that any efforts were made to restore her; but when 
she recovered, she found herself stretched upon a rude pallet 
within an arched recess, the entrance to which was screened by 
a piece of tapestry. On lifting it aside she perceived she was no 
longer in the vault, but in an upper chamber, as she judged, and 
not incorrectly, of the tower. The room was lofty and circular, 
and the walls of enormous thickness, as shown by the deep em 
brasures of the windows ; in one of which, the outlet having been 
built up, the pallet was placed. A massive oak table, two or 
three chairs of antique shape, and a wooden stool, constituted 
the furniture of the room. The stool was set near the fireplace, 
and beside it stood a strangely-fashioned spinning-wheel, which 
had apparently been recently used ; but neither the old hag nor 
her grand-daughter were visible. Alizon could not tell whether 
it was night or day ; but a lamp was burning upon the table, its 
feeble light only imperfectly illumining the chamber, and scarcely 
revealing several strange objects dangling from the huge beams 
that supported the roof. Faded arras were hung against the 
walls, representing in one compartment the last banquet of Isole 
ie Heton and her lover, Blackburn ; in another, the Saxon 



312 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

Ughtred hanging from the summit of Malkin Tower ; and in a 
third, the execution of Abbot Paslew. The subjects were as 
large as life, admirably depicted, and evidently worked at won 
drous looms. As they swayed to and fro in the gusts, that found 
entrance into the chamber through some unprotected loopholes, 
the figures had a grim and ghostly air. 

Weak, trembling, bewildered, Alizon stepped forth, and stag 
gering towards the table sank upon a chair beside it. A fearful 
storm was raging without thunder, lightning, deluging rain. 
Stunned and blinded, she covered her eyes, and remained thus till 
the fury of the tempest had in some degree abated. She was 
roused at length by a creaking sound not far from her, and found 
it proceeded from a trapdoor rising slowly on its hinges. 

A thrum cap first appeared above the level of the floor ; then 
a broad, bloated face, the mouth and chin fringed with a white 
beard like the whiskers of a cat ; then a thick, bull throat ; then 
a pair of brawny shoulders ; then a square, thick-set frame ; and 
Mother Demdike stood before her. A malignant smile played 
upon her hideous countenance, and gleamed from her eyes those 
eyes so strangely placed by nature, as if to intimate her doom, 
and that of her fated race, to whom the horrible blemish was 
transmitted. As the old witch leaped heavily upon the ground, 
the trapdoor closed behind her. 

(t Soh, you are better, Alizon, and have quitted your couch, I 
find," she cried, striking her staff upon the floor. " But you 
look faint and feeble still. I will give you something to revive 
you. I have a wondrous cordial in yon closet a rare restorative 
ha ! ha ! It will make you well the moment it has passed your 
lips. I will fetch it at once." 

" I will have none of it," replied Alizon ; " I would rather die." 

" Rather die ! " echoed Mother Demdike, sarcastically, " be 
cause, forsooth, you are crossed in love. But you shall have the 
man of your heart yet, if you will only follow my counsel, and 
do as I bid you. Richard Assheton shall be yours, and with 
your mother's consent, provided " 

st I understand the condition you annex to the promise," inter 
rupted Alizon, " and the terms upon which you would fulfil it : 
but you seek in vain to tempt me, old woman. I now comprehend 
why I am brought hither." 

"Ay, indeed!" exclaimed the old witch. "And why is it, 
then, since you are so quick-witted ? " 

" You desire to make an offering to the evil being you serve," 
cried Alizon, with sudden energy. " You have entered into some 
dark compact, which compels you to deliver up a victim in each 
year to the Fiend, or your own soul becomes forfeit. Thus you 
have hitherto lengthened out your wretched life, and you hope to 
extend the term yet further through me. I have heard this tale 



THE MYSTERIES OF MALKIN TOWER. 313 

before, but I would not believe it. Now I do. This is why you 
have stolen me from my mother have braved her anger and 
brought me to this impious tower." 

The old hag laughed hoarsely. 

" The tale thou hast heard respecting me is true," she said. 
" I h'jve a compact which requires me to make a proselyte to the 
power I serve within each year, and if I fail in doing so, I must 
pay the penalty thou hast mentioned. A like compact exists 
between Mistress Nutter and the Fiend." 

She paused for a moment, to watch the effect of her words on 
Alizon, and then resumed. 

u Thy mother would have sacrificed thee if thou hadst been 
left with her ; but I have carried thee off, because I conceive I 
am best entitled to thee. Thou wert brought up as my grand 
daughter, and therefore I claim thee as my own." 

u And you think to deal with me as if I were a puppet in your 
hands?" cried Alizon. 

" Ay, marry, do I," rejoined Mother Demdike, with a scream 
of laughter " Thou art nothing more than a puppet a puppet 
ho! ho* 

" And you deem you can dispose of my soul without my con 
sent?" said Alizon. 

" Thy full consent will be obtained," rejoined the old hag. 

" Think it not! think it not!" exclaimed Alizon. " Oh! I shall 
yet be delivered from this infernal bondage." 

At this moment the notes of a bugle were heard. 

" Saved ! saved !" cried the poor girl, starting. 6( It is Richard 
come to my rescue ! " 

" How know'st thou that ? " cried Mother Demdike, with a 
spiteful look. 

" By an instinct that never deceives," replied Alizon, as the 
blast was again heard. 

" This must be stopped," said the hag, waving her staff over 
the maiden, and transfixing her where she sat ; after which she 
took up the lamp, and strode towards the window. 

The few words that passed between her and Richard have been 
already recounted. Having closed the casement and drawn the 
curtain before it, Mother Demdike traced a circle on the floor, 
muttered a spell, and then, waving her staff over Alizon, restored 
her power of speech and motion. 

" 'Twas he!" exclaimed the young girl, as soon as she could 
find utterance. " I heard his voice." 

" Why, ay, 'twas he, sure enough," rejoined the beldame. 
^ He has come on a fool's errand, but he shall never return from 
it. Does Mistress Nutter think I will give up my prize the 
moment I have obtained it, for the mere asking? Does she 
imagine she can frighten me as she frightens others ? Does she 
know whom she has to deal with ? if not, I will tell her. I am 



814 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

the oldest, the boldest, and the strongest of the witches. No 
mystery of the black art but is known to me. I can do what 
mischief I will, and my desolating hand has been felt throughout 
this district. You may trace it like a pestilence. No one has 
offended me but I have terribly repaid him. I rule over the 
land like a queen. I exact tributes, and, if they are not ren 
dered, I smite with a sharper edge than the sword. My worship 
is paid to the Prince of Darkness. This tower is his temple, and 
yon subterranean chamber the place where the mystical rites, 
which thou wouldst call impious and damnable, are performed. 
Countless sabbaths have I attended within it ; or upon Rumbles 
Moor, or on the summit of Pendle Hill, or within the ruins of 
Whalley Abbey. Many proselytes have I made ; many unbap- 
tised babes offered up in sacrifice. I am high-priestess to the 
Demon, and thy mother would usurp mine office." 

" Oh! spare me this horrible recital !" exclaimed Alizon, vainly 
trying to shut out the hag's piercing voice. 

" I will spare thee nothing," pursued Mother Demdike. " Thy 
mother, I say, would be high-priestess in my stead. There are 
degrees among witches, as among other sects, and mine is the 
first. Mistress Nutter would deprive me of mine office ; but not 
till her hair is as white as mine, her knowledge equal to mine, 
and her hatred of mankind as intense as mine not till then shall 
she have it." 

" No more of this, in pity !" cried Alizon. 

u Often have I aided thy mother in her dark schemes," pur 
sued the implacable hag ; " nay, no later than last night I obli 
terated the old boundaries of her land, and erected new marks to 
serve her. It was a strong exercise of power ; but the command 
came to me, and I obeyed it. No other witch could have 
achieved so much, not even the accursed Chattox, and she i& 
next to myself. And how does thy mother purpose to requite 
me ? By thrusting me aside, and stepping into my throne." 

" You must be in error," cried Atizon, scarcely knowing what 
to say. 

" My information never fails me," replied the hag, with a dis 
dainful laugh. " Her plans are made known to me as soon as 
formed. I have those about her who keep strict watch upon 
her actions, and report them faithfully. I know why she 
brought thee so suddenly to Rough Lee, though thou know'st 
it not." 

" She brought me there for safety," remarked the young girl, 
hoping to allay the beldame's fury, " and because she herself de 
sired to know how the survey of the boundaries would end." 

" She brought thee there to sacrifice thee to the Fiend!" cried 
the hag, infernal rage and malice blazing in her eyes. " She 
failed in propitiating him at the meeting in the ruined church of 
Whalley last night, when thou thyself wert present, and deliver- 



THE MYSTERIES OF MALKIN TOWER. 315 

edst Dorothy Assheton from the snare in which she was taken . 
And since then all has gone wrong with her. Having demanded 
from her familiar the cause why all things ran counter, she was 
told she had failed in the fulfilment of her promise that a prose 
lyte was required and that thou alone wouldst be accepted." 

" I ! * exclaimed Alizon, horror-stricken. 

rt Ay, thou!" cried the hag. "No choice was allowed her, 
and the offering must be made to-night. After a long and pain 
ful struggle, thy mother consented." 

" Oh ! no impossible ! you deceive me," cried the wretched 
girl. 

" I tell thee she consented," rejoined Mother Demdike, coldly; 
u and on this she made instant arrangements to return home, and 
in spite as thou know'st of Sir Ralph and Lady Assheton's 
efforts to detain her, set forth with thee." 

" All this I know," objerved Alizon, sadly " and intelligence 
of our departure from the Abbey was conveyed to you, I conclude, 
by Jennet, to whom I bade adieu." 

" Thou art right it was," returned the hag ; " but I have yet 
more to tell thee, for I will lay the secrets of thy mother's dark 
breast fully before thee. Her time is wellnigh run. Thou wert 
made the price of its extension. If she fails in offering thee 
up to-night, and thou art here in my keeping, the Fiend, her 
master, will abandon her, and she will be delivered up to the 
justice of man." 

Alizon covered her face with horror. 

After awhile she looked up, and exclaimed, with unutterable 
anguish 

st And I cannot help her !" 

The unpitying hag laughed derisively. 

" She cannot be utterly lost," continued the young girl. " Were 
I near her, I would show her that heaven is merciful to the 
greatest sinner who repents; and teach her how to regain the 
lost path to salvation." 

" Peace !" thundered the witch, shaking her huge hand at her, 
and stamping her heavy foot upon the ground. " Such words 
must not be uttered here. They are an offence to me. Thy 
mother has renounced all hopes of heaven. She has been bap 
tised in the baptism of hell, and branded on the brow by the 
red finger of its ruler, and cannot be wrested from him. It is 
too late." 

" No, no it never can be too late I" cried Alizon. " It is not 
even too late for you." 

" Thou know'st not what thou talk'st about, foolish wench," 
rejoined the hag. " Our master would tear us instantly in pieces 
if but a thought of penitence, as thou callest it, crossed our minds. 
We are both doomed to an eternity of torture. But thy mother 
will go first ay, first. If she had vielded thee up to-night, 



316 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

another term would have been allowed her ; but as I hold thee 
instead, the benefit of the sacrifice will be mine. But, hist! what 
was that? The youth again! Alice Nutter must have given him 
some potent counter-charm." 

" He comes to deliver me," cried Alizon. " Richard !" 

And she arose, and would have flown to the window, but 
Mother Demdike waved her staff over her, and rooted her to the 
ground. x 

" Stay there till I require thee," chuckled the hag, moving, 
with ponderous footsteps, to the door. 

After parleying with Richard, as already related, Mother Dem- 
dike suddenly returned to Alizon, and, restoring her to sensibility, 
placed her hideous face close to her, breathing upon her, and 
uttering these words, " Be thine eyes blinded and thy brain 
confused, so that thou mayst not know him when thou seest him, 
but think him another." 

The spell took instant effect. Alizon staggered towards the 
table, Richard was summoned, and on his appearance the scene 
took place which has already been detailed, and which ended in 
his losing the talisman, and being ejected from the tower. 

Alizon had been rendered invisible by the old witch, and was 
afterwards dragged into the arched recess by her, where, snatch 
ing the piece of gold from the young girl's neck, she exclaimed 
triumphantly 

" Now I defy thee, Alice Nutter. Thou canst never recover 
thy child. The offering shall be made to-night, and another year 
be added to my long term." 

Alizon groaned deeply, but, at a gesture from the hag, she 
became motionless and speechless. 

A dusky indistinctly-seen figure hovered near the entrance of 
the embrasure. Mother Demdike beckoned it to her. 

" Convey this girl to the vault, and watch over her," she said. 
" I will descend anon." 

Upon this the shadowy arms enveloped Alizon, the trapdoor 
flew open, and the figure disappeared with its inanimate burthen. 



CHAPTER XIII. THE TWO FAMILIARS. 

AFTER seeing Richard depart on his perilous mission to Malkin 
Tower, Mistress Nutter retired to her own chamber, and held 
long and anxious self-communion. The course of her thoughts 
may be gathered from the terrible revelations made by Mother 
Demdike to Alizon. A prey to the most agonising emotions, it 
may be questioned if she could have endured greater torment if 
her heart had been consumed by living fire, as in the punishment 
assigned to the damned in the fabled halls of Eblis. For the 



THE TWO FAMILIARS. 317 

first time remorse assailed her, and she felt compunction for the 
evil she had committed. The whole of her dark career passed in 
review before her. The long catalogue of her crimes unfolded 
itself like a scroll of flame, and at its foot were written in blazing 
characters the awful words, JUDGMENT AND CONDEMNATION I 
There was no escape none ! Hell, with its unquenchable fires 
and unimaginable horrors, yawned to receive her ; and she felt r 
\vith anguish and self-reproach not to be described, how wretched 
a bargain she had made, and how dearly the brief gratification of 
her evil passions had been purchased at the cost of an eternity of 
woe and torture. 

This change of feeling had been produced by her newly-awak 
ened affection for her daughter, long supposed dead, and now 
restored to her, only to be snatched away again in a manner 
which added to the sharpness of the loss. She saw herself the 
sport of a juggling fiend, whose aim was to win over her daugh 
ter's soul through her instrumentality, and she resolved, if possible, 
to defeat his purposes. This, she was aware, could only be 
accomplished by her own destruction, but even this dread alter 
native she was prepared to embrace. Alizon's sinless nature and 
devotion to herself had so wrought upon her, that, though she 
had at first resisted the better impulses kindled within her bosom, 
in the end they completely overmastered her. 

Was it, she asked herself, too late to repent? Was there no 
way of breaking her compact ? She remembered to have read of 
a young man who had signed away his own soul, being restored 
to heaven by the intercession of the great reformer of the church,. 
Martin Luther. But, on the other hand, she had heard of many 
others, who, on the slightest manifestation of penitence, had been 
rent in pieces by the Fiend. Still the idea recurred to her. 
Might not her daughter, armed with perfect purity and holiness, 
with a soul free from stain as an unspotted mirror ; might not 
she, who had avouched herself ready to risk all for her for she 
had overheard her declaration to Richard; might not she be able 
to work out her salvation? Would confession of her sins and 
voluntary submission to earthly justice save her ? Alas ! no. 
She was without hope. She had an inexorable master to deal 
with, who would grant her no grace, except upon conditions she 
would not assent to. 

She would have thrown herself on her knees, but they refused 
to bend. She would have prayed, but the words turned to blas 
phemies. She would have wept, but the fountains of tears were 
dry. The witch could never weep. 

Then came despair and frenzy, and, like furies, lashed her with 
whips of scorpions, goading her with the memory of her abomi 
nations and idolatries, and her infinite and varied iniquities. 
They showed her, as in a swiftly-fleeting vision, all who had suf 
fered wrong by her, or whom her malice had afflicted in body or 



318 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

estate. They mocked her with a glimpse of the paradise she had 
forfeited. She saw her daughter in a beatified state about to 
enter its golden portals, and would have clung to her robes in the 
hope of being carried in with her, but she was driven away by an 
angel with a flaming sword, who cried out, " Thou hast abjured 
heaven, and heaven rejects thee. Satan's brand is upon thy brow, 
and, unless it be effaced, thou canst never enter here. Down to 
Tophet, thou witch ! " Then she implored her daughter to touch 
her brow with the tip of her finger ; and, as the latter was about 
to comply, a dark demoniacal shape suddenly rose, and, seizing 
her by the hair, plunged with her down down millions of miles 
till she beheld a world of fire appear beneath her, consisting of 
a multitude of volcanoes, roaring and raging like furnaces, boiling 
over with redhot lava, and casting forth huge burning stones. 
In each of these beds of fire thousands upon thousands of sufferers 
were writhing, and their groans and lamentations arose in one 
frightful, incessant wail, too terrible for human hearing. 

Over this place of torment the demon held her suspended. 
She shrieked aloud in her agony, and, shaking off the oppression, 
rejoiced to find the vision had been caused by her own distem 
pered imagination. 

Meanwhile, the storm, which had obstructed Richard as he 
climbed the hill, had come on, though Mistress Nutter had not 
noticed it ; but now a loud peal of thunder shook the room, and 
rousing herself she walked to the window. The sight she beheld 
increased her alarm. Heavy thunder-clouds rested upon the hill 
side, and seemed ready to discharge their artillery upon the course 
which she knew must be taken by the young man. 

The chamber in which she stood, it has been said, was large 
and gloomy, with a wainscoting of dark oak. On one of the 
panels was painted a picture of herself in her days of youth, inno 
cence, and beauty ; and on another, a portrait of her unfortunate 
husband, who appeared a handsome young man, with a stern 
countenance, attired in a black velvet doublet and cloak, of the 
fashion of Elizabeth's day. Between these paintings stood a 
carved oak bedstead, with a high tester and dark heavy drapery, 
opposite which was a wide window, occupying almost the whole 
length of the room, but darkened by thick bars and glass, crowded 
with armorial bearings, or otherwise deeply dyed. The high 
mantelpiece and its carvings have been previously described, as 
well as the bloody hearthstone, where the tragical incident 
occurred connected with Aiizon's early history. 

As Mistress Nutter returned to the fireplace, a plaintive cry 
arose from it, and starting for the sound revived terrible memo 
ries within her breast she beheld the ineffaceable stains upon the 
flag traced out by blue phosphoric fire, while above them hovered 
the shape of a bleeding infant. Horror-stricken, she averted her 
gaze, but it encountered another object, equally appalling her 



THE TWO FAMILIARS. 319 

husband's portrait ; or rather, it would seem, a phantom in its 
piace ; for the eyes, lighted up by infernal fire, glared at her from 
beneath the frowning and contracted brows, while the hand sig 
nificantly pointed to the hearthstone, on which the sanguinary 

A * 1 ,1 _ ._ .*_ . ^ J -i-l, rt . t-v4-^. -4-1.^ -A-k-4-rtl iT-r^-Wrf-l C^ TT17*XT_ 



stains had now formed themselves into the fatal word " VEN 
GEANCE !" 

In a few minutes the fiery characters died away, and the por 
trait resumed its wonted expression; I at ere Mistress Nutter had 
recovered from her terror the back of the fireplace opened, and a 
tall swarthy man stepped out from it. As he appeared, a flash 
of lightning illumined the chamber, and revealed his fiendish 
countenance. On seeing him, the lady immediately regained her 
courage, and addressed him in a haughty and commanding tone 

" Why this intrusion f I did not summon thee, and do not 
require thee." 

u You are mistaken, madam," he replied ; " you had never 
more occasion for me than at this moment ; and, so far from in 
truding upon you, I have avoided coming near you, even though 
enjoined to do so by my lord. He is perfectly aware of the 
change which has just taken place in your opinions, and the 
anxiety you now feel to break the contract you have entered into 
with him, and which he has scrupulously fulfilled on his part ; 
but he wishes you distinctly to understand, that he has no inten 
tion of abandoning his claims upon you, but will most assuredly 
enforce them at the proper time. 1 need not remind you that 
your term draws to a close, and ere many months must expire ; 
but means of extending it have been offered you, if you choose to 
avail yourself of them." 

" I have no such intention," replied Mistress Nutter, in a de 
cided tone. 

" So be it, madam," replied the other ; " but you will not 
preserve your daughter, who is in the hands of a tried and faithful 
servant of my lord, and what you hesitate to do that servant will 
perform, and so reap the benefit of the sacrifice." 

" Not so," rejoined Mistress Nutter. 

ts I say yea," retorted the familiar. 

" Thou art my slave, I command thee to bring Alizon hither at 
once." 

The familiar shook his head. 

" Thou refusest!" cried Mistress Nutter, menacingly. 

" Knows't thou not I have the means of chastising theet" 

if You had, madam," replied the other ; " but the moment a 
thought of penitence crossed your breast, the power you were 
invested with departed. My lord, however, is willing to 
give you an hour of grace, when, if you voluntarily renew your 
oaths to him, he will accept them, and place me at your disposal 
once more ; but if you still continue obstinate " 

" He will abandon me," interrupted Mistress Nutter ; " I knew 



320 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

it. Fool that I was to trust one who, from the beginning, naa 
been a deceiver." 

" You have a short memory, and but little gratitude, madam, 
and seem entirely to forget the important favour conferred upon 
you last night. At your solicitation, the boundaries of your pro 
perty were changed, and large slips of land filched from another, 
to be given to you. But if you fail in your duty, you cannot 
expect this to continue. The boundary marks will be set up in 
their old places, and the land restored to its rightful owner." 
" I expected as much," observed Mistress Nutter, disdainfully. 
rt Thus all our pains will be thrown away," pursued the 
familiar; " and though you may make light of the labour, it is no easy 
task to change the face of a whole country to turn streams from 
their course, move bogs, transplant trees, and shift houses, all of 
which has been done, and will now have to be undone, because of 
your inconstancy. I, myself, have been obliged to act as many 
parts as a poor player to please you, and now you dismiss me at 
a moment's notice, as if I had played them indifferently, whereas 
the most fastidious audience would have been ravished with my 
performance. This morning I was the reeve of the forest, and 
as such obliged to assume the shape of a rascally attorney. I felt 
it a degradation, I assure you. Nor was I better pleased when 
you compelled me to put on the likeness of old Roger Nowell; for, 
whatever you may think, I am not so entirely destitute of 
personal vanity as to prefer either of their figures to my own. 
However, I showed no disinclination to oblige you. You are 
strangely unreasonable to-day. Is it my lord's fault if your desire 
of vengeance expires in its fruition if, when you have accomplished 
an object, you no longer care for it I You ask for revenge for 
power. You have them, and cast them aside like childish 
baubles!" 

" Thy lord is an arch deceiver," rejoined Mistress Nutter ; 
" and cannot perform his promises. They are empty delusions 
profitless, unsubstantial as shadows. His power prevails not 
against any thing holy, as I myself have just now experienced. 
His money turns to withered leaves ; his treasures are dust and 
ashes. Strong only is he in power of mischief, and even his 
mischief, like curses, recoils on those who use it. His vengeance 
is no true vengeance, for it troubles the conscience, and engenders 
remorse; whereas the servant of heaven heaps coals of fire on the 
head of his adversary by kindness, and satisfies his own heart." 
" You should have thought of all this before you vowed your 
self to him," said the familiar ; " it is too late to reflect now." 
" Perchance not," rejoined Mistress Nutter. 
a Beware I" thundered the demon, with a terrible gesture; 
w any overt act of disobedience, and your limbs shall be scattered 
over this chamber." 

" If I do not dare thee to it, it is not because I fear thee," 



THE TWO FAMILIARS. 321 

Mistress Nutter, in no way dismayed by the threat. 
" Thou canst not control my tongue. Thou speakest ^of the 
services rendered by thy lord, and I repeat they are like his 
promises, naught. Show me the witch he has enriched. Of 
what profit is her worship of the false deity of what avail the 
sacrifices she makes at his foul altars? It is ever the same 
spilling of blood, ever the same working of mischief. The wheels 
of crime roll on like the car of the Indian idol, crushing all before 
them. Doth thy master ever help his servants in their need? 
Doth he not ever abandon them when they are no longer useful, 
and can win him no more proselytes? Miserable servants 
miserable master ! Look at the murtherous Demdike and the 
malignant Chattox, and examine the means whereby they have 
prolonged their baleful career. Enormities of all kinds committed, 
and all their families devoted to the Fiend all wizards or witches ! 
Look at them, I say. What profit to them is their long service? 
Are they rich ? Are they in possession of unfading youth and 
beauty? Are they splendidly lodged? Have they all they 
desire ? No ! the one dwells in a solitary turret, and the other 
in a wretched hovel ; and both are miserable creatures, living only 
on the dole wrung by threats from terrified peasants, and capable 
of no gratification but such as results from practices of malice." 

" Is that nothing?" asked the familiar. " To them it is every 
thing. They care neither for splendid mansions, nor wealth, nor 
youth, nor beauty. If they did, they could have them all. They 
care only for the dread and mysterious power they possess, to be 
able to fascinate with a glance, to transfix by a gesture, to inflict 
strange ailments by a word, and to kill by a curse. This is the 
privilege they seek, and this privilege they enjoy." 

" And what is the end of it all ? " demanded Mistress Nutter, 
sternly. " Erelong, they will be unable to furnish victims to 
their insatiate master, who will then abandon them. Their 
bodies will go to the hangman, and their souls to endless bale !" 

The familiar laughed as if a good joke had been repeated to 
him, and rubbed his hands gleefully. 

" Very true," he said ; " very true. You have stated the case 
exactly, madam. Such will certainly be the course of events. 
But what of that ? The old hags will have enjoyed a long term 
much longer than might have been anticipated. Mother 
Demdike, however, as I have intimated, will extend hers, and it 
is fortunate for her she is enabled to do so, as it would otherwise 
expire an hour after midnight, and could not be renewed." 

"Thou liest !" cried Mistress Nutter " liest like thy lord, who 
is the father of lies. My innocent child can never be offered up 
at his impious shrine. I have no fear for her. Neither he, nor 
Mother Demdike, nor any of the accursed sisterhood, can harm 
her. Her goodness will cover her like armour, which no evil can 
penetrate. Let him wreak his vengeance, if he will, on me. Let 

YT 



322 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

him treat me as a slave who has cast off his yoke. Let him 
abridge the scanty time allotted me, and bear me hence to his 
burning kingdom ; but injure my child, he cannot shall not !" 

" Go to Malkin Tower at midnight, and thou wilt see," replied 
the familiar, with a mocking laugh. 

" 1 will go there, but it shall be to deliver her," rejoined 
Mistress Nutter. "And now get thee gone ! I need thee no more." 

" Be not deceived, proud woman," said the familiar. " Once 
dismissed, I may not be recalled, while thou wilt be 'wholly 
unable to defend thyself against thy enemies." 

ie I care not," she rejoined ; " begone ! " 

The familiar stepped back, and, stamping upon the hearthstone, 
it sank like a trapdoor, and he disappeared beneath it, a flash of 
lightning playing round his dusky figure. 

Notwithstanding her vaunted resolution, and the boldness with 
which she had comported herself before the familiar, Mistress 
Nutter now completely gave way, and for awhile abandoned her 
self to despair. Aroused at length by the absolute necessity of 
action, she again walked to the window and looked forth. The 
storm still raged furiously without so furiously, indeed, 
that it would be madness to brave it, now that she was deprived 
of her power, and reduced to the ordinary level of humanity. Its 
very violence, however, assured her it must soon cease, and she 
would then set out for Malkin Tower. But what chance had she 
now in a struggle with the old hag, with all the energies of hel' 
at her command ? what hope was there of her being able to 
effect her daughter's liberation ? No matter, however desperate, 
the attempt should be made. Meanwhile, it would be necessary 
so see what was going on below ,and ascertain whether Blackadder 
had returned with Parson Holden. With this view, she descended 
to the hall, where she found Nicholas Assheton fast asleep in a 
great arm-chair, and rocked rather than disturbed by the loud 
concussions of thunder. The squire was, no doubt, overcome by 
the fatigues of the day, or it might be by the potency of the wine 
he had swallowed, for an empty flask stood on the table beside 
him. Mistress Nutter did not awaken him, but proceeded to the 
ehamber where she had left Nowell and Potts prisoners, both of 
whom rose on her entrance. 

66 Be seated, gentlemen, I pray you," she said, courteously. " I 
am come to see if you need any thing ; for when this fearful storm 
abates, I am going forth for a short time.*' 

" Indeed, madam," replied Potts. " For myself I require nothing 
further; but perhaps another bottle of wine might be agreeable to 
my honoured and singular good client." 

" Speak for yourself, sir," cried Roger Nowell, sharply. 

" You shall have it," interposed Mistress Nutter. " I shall be 
glad of a word with you before I go, Master Nowell. I am sorry 
this dispute has arisen between us." 



THE TWO FAMILIARS, 323 

" Humph !" exclaimed the magistrate. 

"Very sorry," pursued Mistress Nutter; "and I wish to make 
every reparation in my power." 

" Reparation, madam!" cried No well. " Give back the land you 
have stolen from me restore the boundary lines >sign the deed 
in Sir Ralph's possession that is the only reparation you can 
make." 

" I will," replied Mistress Nutter. 

"You will!" exclaimed Noweli. "Then the fellow did not 
deceive us, Master Potts." 

" Has any one been with you I " asked the lady, uneasily. 

"Ay, the reeve of the forest," replied Noweli. " He told us 
you would be with us presently, and would make fair offers to us." 

"And he told us also why you would make them, madam," 
added Potts, in an insolent and menacing tone ; " he told us you 
would make a merit of doing what you could not help that your 
power had gone from you that your works of darkness would be 
destroyed arid that, in a word, you were abandoned by the devil, 
your master." 

" He deceived you," replied Mistress Nutter. " I have made 
you the offer out of pure good- will, and you can reject it or not, 
as you please. All I stipulate, if you do accept it, is, that you 
pledge me vour word not to bring any charge of witchcraft against 
me." 

" Do not give the pledge," whispered a voice in the ear of the 
magistrate. 

" Did you speak ? " he said, turning to Potts. 

" No, sir," replied the attorney, in a low tone; " but I thought 
you cautioned me against " 

" Hush!" interrupted Noweli; " it must be the reeve. We can 
not comply with your request, madam," he added, aloud. 

" Certainly not," said Potts. We can make no bargain with 
an avowed witch. We should gain nothing by it ; on the contrary, 
we should be losers, for we have the positive assurance of a gen 
tleman whom we believe to be upon terms of intimacy with a 
certain black gentleman of your acquaintance, madam, that the 
latter has given you up entirely, and that law and justice may, 
therefore, take their course. VVe protest against our unlawful 
detention ; but we give ourselves small concern about it, as Sir 
Ralph Assheton, who will be advised of our situation by Parson 
Holden, will speedily come to our liberation." 

" Yes, we are now quite easy on that score, madam," added 
Noweli ; " and to-morrow we shall have the pleasure of escorting 
you to Lancaster Castle." 

" And your trial will come on at the next assizes, about the 
middle of August," said Potts. " You have only four months to 



324 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" That is indeed my term," muttered the lady. " I shall not 
tarry to listen to your taunts," she added, aloud. " You may 
possibly regret rejecting my proposal." 

So saying, she quitted the room. 

As she returned to the hall, Nicholas awoke. 

" What a devil of a storm !" he exclaimed, stretching himself, 
and rubbing his eyes. te Zounds ! that flash of lightning was enough 
to blind me, and the thunder wellnigh splits one's ears. 

" Yet you have slept through louder peals, Nicholas," said Mis 
tress Nutter, coming up to him. " Richard has not returned from 
his mission, and I must go myself to Malkin Tower. In my ab 
sence, I must entrust you with the defence of my house," 

u I am willing to undertake it," replied Nicholas, " provided no 
witchcraft be used." 

" Nay, you need not fear that," said the lady, with a forced 
smile. 

66 Well, then, leave it to me," said the squire; " but you will not 
set out till the storm is over ? " 

" I must," replied Mistress Nutter ; "there seems no likelihood 
of its cessation, and each moment is fraught with peril to Alizon. 
If aught happens to me, Nicholas if I should whatever mis 
chance may befall me promise me you will stand by her." 

The squire gave the required promise. 

rf Enough, I hold you to your word," said Mistress Nutter. 
" Take this parchment. It is a deed of gift, assigning this mansion 
and all my estates to her. Under certain circumstances you will 
produce it." 

" What circumstances ? I am at a loss to understand you, 
madam," said the squire. 

rt Do not question me further, but take especial care of the deed, 
and produce it, as I have said, at the fitting moment. You will 
know when that arrives. Ha ! I am wanted." 

The latter exclamation had been occasioned by the appearance 
of an old woman at the further end of the hall, beckoning to her. 
On seeing her, Mistress Nutter immediately quitted the squire, 
and followed her into a small chamber opening from this part of 
the hall, and into which she retreated. 

" What brings you here, Mother Chattox ?" exclaimed the lady, 
closing the door. 

" Can you not guess?" replied the hag. " I am come to help 
you, not for any love I bear you, but to avenge myself on old Dem- 
dike. Do not interrupt me. My familiar, Fancy, has^told^ me 
all. I know how you are circumstanced. I know Alizon is in 
old Demdike's clutches, and you are unable to extricate her. But 
I can, and will ; because if the hateful old hag fails in offering up 
her sacrifice before the first hour of day, her term will be out, and 
I shall be rid of her, and reign in her stead. To-morrow she will 




THE RIDK THROUGH THE MURKY AIR. 



P. 325. 



THE TWO FAMILIARS. 325 

be on her way to Lancaster Castle. Ha ! ha ! The dungeon is 
prepared for her the stake driven into the ground the fagots 
heaped around it. The torch has only to be lighted. Ho ! Ho !" 

a Shall we go to Malkin Tower 1" asked Mistress Nutter, shud 
dering. 

" No ; to the summit ofPendle Hill," rejoined Mother Chattox; 
" for there the girl will be taken, and there only can we secure 
her. But first we must proceed to my hut, and make some pre 
parations. I have three scalps and eight teeth, taken from a grave 
in Goldshaw churchyard this very day. We can make a charm 
with them. 

" You must prepare it alone," said Mistress Nutter ; u I can 
have nought to do with it." 

" True true I had forgotten," cried the hag, with a chuck 
ling laugh u you are no longer one of us. Well, then, I will do 
it alone. But come with me. You will not object to mount upon 
my broomstick. It is the only safe conveyance in this storm of 
the devil's raising. Come away!" 

And she threw open the window and sprang forth, followed by 
Mistress Nutter. 

Through the murky air, and borne as if on the wings of the 
wind, two dark forms are flying swiftly. Over the tops of the 
tempest-shaken trees they go, and as they gain the skirts of the 
thicket an oak beneath is shivered by a thunderbolt. They hear 
the fearful crash, and see the splinters fly far and wide ; and the 
foremost of the two, who, with her skinny arm extended, seems 
to direct their course, utters a wild scream of laughter, while a 
raven, speeding on broad black wing before them, croaks hoarsely. 
Now the torrent rages below, and they see its white waters tum 
bling over a ledge of rock; now they pass over the brow of a hill ; 
now skim over a dreary waste and dangerous morass. Fearful it 
is to behold those two flying figures, as the lightning shows them, 
bestriding their fantastical steed ; the one an old hag with hideous 
lineaments and distorted person, and the other a proud dame, still 
beautiful, though no longer young, pale as death, i*nd her loose 
jetty hair streaming like a meteor in the breeze. 

The ride is over, and they alight near the door of a solitary 
hovel. The raven has preceded them, and, perched on the chim 
ney top, flies down it as they enter, and greets them with hoarse 
croaking. The inside of the hut corresponds with its miserable 
exterior, consisting only of two rooms, in one of which is a 
wretched pallet ; in the other are a couple of large chests, a crazy 
table, a bench, a three-legged stool, and a spinning-wheel. A 
caldron is suspended above a peat fire, smouldering on the hearth. 
There is only one window, and a thick curtain is drawn across it, 
to secure the inmate of the hut from prying eyes. 

Mother Chattox closes and bars the door, and, motioning 
Mistress Nutter to seat herself upon the stool, kneels down near 



326 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

the hearth, and blows the turf into a flame, the raven helping her, 
by napping his big black wings, and uttering a variety of strange 
sounds, as the sparks fly about. Heaping on more turf, and 
shifting the caldron, so that it may receive the full influence o? 
the flame, the hag proceeds to one of the chests, and takes out 
sundry small matters, which she places one by one with great care 
on the table. The raven has now fixed his great talons on her 
shoulder, and chuckles and croaks in her ear as she pursues her 
occupation. Suddenly a piece of bone attracts his attention, and 
darting out his beak, he seizes it, and hops away. 

" Give me that scalp, thou mischievous imp I" cries the hag, 
" I need it for the charm I am about to prepare. Give it me, 
I say ! " 

But the raven still held it fast, and hopped here and there so 
nimbly that she was unable to catch him. At length, when he 
had exhausted her patience, he alighted on Mistress Nutter's 
shoulder, and dropped it into her lap. Engrossed by her own 
painful thoughts, the lady had paid no attention to what was 
passing, and she shuddered as she took up the fragment of mor 
tality, and placed it upon the table. A few tufts of hair, the 
texture of which showed they had belonged to a female, still 
adhered to the scalp. Mistress Nutter regarded it fixedly, and 
with an interest for which she could not account. 

After sharply chiding the raven, Mother Chattox put forth her 
hand to grasp the prize she had been robbed of, when Mistress 
Nutter checked her by observing, " You said you got this scalp 
from Goldshaw churchyard. Know you ought concerning it?" 

te Ay, a good deal," replied the old woman, chuckling. " It 
comes from a grave near the yew-tree, and not far from Abbot 
Cliderhow's cross. Old Zachariah Worms, the sexton, digged it 
up for me. That yellow skull had once a fair face attached to it, 
and those few dull tufts were once bright flowing tresses. She 
who owned them died young ; but, young as she was, she survived 
all her beauty. Hollow cheeks and hollow eyes, wasted flesh, 
and cruel cough, were hers and she pined and pined away. 
Folks said she was forespoken, and that I had done it. I, for 
sooth ! She had never done me harm. You know whether I 
was rightly accused, madam." 

" Take it away," cried Mistress Nutter, hurriedly, and as if 
struggling against some overmastering feeling. " I cannot bear 
to look at it. I wanted not this horrible reminder of my crimes." 

" This was the reason, then, why Ralph stole the scalp from 
me," muttered the hag, as she threw it, together with some other 
matters, into the caldron. " He wanted to show you his saga 
city. I might have guessed as much." 

"I will go into the other room while you make your pre 
parations," said Mistress Nutter, rising; "the sight of them 
disturbs me. You can summon me when you are ready." 



THE TWO FAMILIARS. 327 

" I will, madam," replied the old hag, " and you must control 
your impatience, for the spell requires time for its confection." 

Mistress Nutter made no reply, but, walking into the inner 
room, closed the door, and threw herself upon the pallet. Here, 
despite her anxiety, sleep stole upon her, and though her dreams 
were troubled, she did not awake till Mother Chattox stood 
beside her. 

" Have I slept long t " she inquired. 

" More than three hours," replied the hag. 

"Three hours !" exclaimed Mistress Nutter. " Why did you 
not wake me before ? You would have saved me from terrible 
dreams. We are not too late ? " 

" No, no," replied Mother Chattox ; ts there is plenty of time. 
Come into the other room. All is ready." 

As Mistress Nutter followed the old hag into the adjoining 
room, a strong odour, arising from a chafing-dish, in which herbs, 
roots, and other ingredients were burning, assailed her, and, 
versed in all weird ceremonials, she knew that a powerful suffu- 
migation had been made, though with what intent she had yet to 
learn. The scanty furniture had been cleared away, and a circle 
was described on the clay floor by skulls and bones, alternated 
by dried toads, adders, and other reptiles. In the midst of this 
magical circle, the caldron, which had been brought from the 
chimney, was placed, and, the lid being removed, a thick vapour 
arose from it. Mistress Nutter looked around for the raven, but 
the bird was nowhere to be seen, nor did any other living thing 
appear to be present beside themselves. 

Taking the lady's hand, Mother Chattox drew her into the 
circle, and began to mutter a spell ; after which, still maintaining 
her hold of her companion, she bade her look into the caldron, 
and declare what she saw. 

tt I see nothing," replied the lady, after she had gazed upon the 
bubbling waters for a few moments. " Ah ! yes I discern 
certain figures, but they are confused by the steam, and broken 
by the agitation of the water." 

"Caldron cease boiling! and smoke disperse!" cried Mother 
Chattox, stamping her foot. " Now, can you see more plainly 1 " 

" I can," replied Mistress Nutter ; " I behold the subterranean 
chamber beneath Malkin Tower, with its nine ponderous columns, 
its altar in the midst of them, its demon image, and the well 
with waters black as Lethe beside it." 

"The water within the caldron came from that well," said 
Mother Chattox, with a chuckling laugh ; " my familiar risked 
his liberty to bring it, but he succeeded. Ha ! ha ! My precious 
Fancy, thou art the best of servants, and shalt have my best 
blood to reward thee to-morrow thou shalt, my sweetheart, my 
chuck, my dandyprat. But hie thee back to Malkin Tower, and 



328 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

contrive that this lady may hear, as well as see, all that passes. 
Away !" 

Mistress Nutter concluded that the injunction would be obeyed ; 
but, as the familiar was invisi le to her, she could not detect his 
departure. 

" Do you see no one within the dungeon?" inquired Mother 
Chattox. 

" Ah ! yes," exclaimed the lady ; " I have at last discovered 
Alizon. She was behind one of the pillars. A little girl is" with 
her. It is Jennet Device, and, from the spiteful looks of the 
latter, I judge she is mocking her. Oh ! what malice lurks in 
the breast of that hateful child ! She is a true descendant of 
Mother Demdike. But Alizon sweet, patient Alizon she 
seems to bear all her taunts with a meekness and resignatior 
enough to move the hardest heart. I would weep for her if i 
could. And now Jennet shakes her hand at her, and leaves her. 
She is alone. What will she do now ? Has she no thoughts of 
escape ? Oh, yes ! She looks about her distractedly runs 
round the vault tries the door of every cell : they are all bolted 
and barred there is no outlet none !" 

rt What next f " inquired the hag. 

" She shrieks aloud," rejoined Mistress Nutter, " and the cry 
thrills through every fibre in my frame. She calls upon me for 
aid upon me, her mother, and little thinks I hear her, and am 
unable to help her. Oh ! it is horrible. Take me to her, good 
Chattox take me to her, I implore you ! " 

" Impossible !" replied the hag: " you must await the fitting 
time. If you cannot control yourself, I shall remove the 
caldron." 

" Oh ! no, no," cried the distracted lady. " I will be calm. 
Ah ! what is this I see ? " she added, belying her former words 
by sudden vehemence, while rage and astonishment were depicted 
upon her countenance. " What infernal delusion is practised 
upon my child ! This is monstrous intolerable. Oh ! that I 
could undeceive her could warn her of the snare !" 

" What is the nature of the delusion ?" asked Mother Chattox, 
with some curiosity. " I am so blind I cannot see the figures on 
the water." 

" It is an evil spirit in my likeness," replied Mistress Nutter. 

"In your likeness!" exclaimed the hag. "A cunning device 
and worthy of old Demdike ho ! ho !" 

" I can scarce bear to look on," cried Mistress Nutter; " but I 
must, though it tears my heart in pieces to witness such cruelty. 
The poor girl has rushed to her false parent has thrown her arms 
around her, and is weeping on her shoulder. Oh ! it is a mad 
dening sight. But it is nothing to what follows. The temptress, 
with the subtlety of the old serpent, is pouring lies into her ear, 



THE TWO FAMILIARS. 329 

telling her they both are captives, and both will perish unless she 
consents to purchase their deliverance at the price of her soul, 
and she offers her a bond to sign such a bond as, alas ! thou and 
I, Chattox, have signed. But Alizon rejects it with horror, and 
gazes at her false mother as if she suspected the delusion. But 
the temptress is not to be beaten thus. She renews her entreaties, 
casts herself on the ground, and clasps my child's knees in hum 
blest supplication. Oh ! that Alizon would place her foot upon 
her neck and crush her. But it is not so the good act. She raises 
her, and tells her she will willingly die for her; but her soul was 
given to her by her Creator, and must be returned to him. Oh ! 
that I had thought of this." 

" And what answer makes the spirit ?" asked the witch. 

t It laughs derisively," replied Mistress Nutter ; " and pro 
ceeds to use all those sophistical arguments, which we have so 
often heard, to pervert her mind, and overthrow her principles. 
But Alizon is proof against them all. Religion and virtue sup 
port her, and make her more than a match for her opponent. 
Equally vain are the spirit's attempts to seduce her by the offer 
of a life of sinful enjoyment. She rejects it with angry scorn. 
Failing in argument and entreaty, the spirit now endeavours to 
work upon her fears, and paints, in appalling colours, the tortures 
she will have to endure, contrasting them with the delight she is 
voluntarily abandoning, with the lover she might espouse, with 
the high worldly position she might fill. ' What are worldly joys 
and honours compared with those of heaven ! ' exclaims Alizon ; 
6 1 would not exchange them.' The spirit then, in a vision, shows 
her her lover, Richard, and asks her if she can resist his entrea 
ties. The tiial is very sore, as she gazes on that beloved form, 
seeming, by its passionate gestures, to implore her to assent, but 
she is firm, and the vision disappears. The ordeal is now over. 
Alizon has triumphed over all their arts. The spirit in my like 
ness resumes its fiendish shape, and, with a dreadful menace 
against the poor girl, vanishes from her sight. " 

" Mother Demdike has not done with her yet," observed 
Chattox. 

"You are right," replied Mistress Nutter. "The old hag 
descends the staircase leading to the vault, and approaches the 
miserable captive. With her there are no supplications no 
arguments ; but commands and terrible threats. She is as unsuc 
cessful as her envoy. Alizon has gained courage and defies her." 

" Ha ! does she so ?" exclaimed Mother Chattox. " I am glad 
of it." 

" The solid floor resounds with the stamping of the enraged 
witch," pursued Mistress Nutter. " She tells Alizon she will 
take her to Pendle Hill at midnight, and there offer her up as a 
sacrifice to the Fiend. My child replies that she trusts for her 
deliverance to Heaven that her body may be destroyed that 



330 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

her soul cannot be harmed. Scarcely are the words uttered than 
a terrible clangour is heard. The walls of the dungeon seem 
breaking down, and the ponderous columns reel. The demon 
statue rises on its throne, and a stream of flame issues from its 
brow. The doors of the cells burst open, and with the clanking 
of chains, and other dismal noises, skeleton shapes stalk forth 
from them, each with a pale blue light above its head. Monstrous 
beasts, like tiger-cats, with rough black skins and flaming eyes, 
are moving about, and looking as if they would spring uptfn the 
captive. Two gravestones are now pushed aside, and from the 
cold earth arise the forms of Blackburn, the robber, and hk para 
mour, the dissolute Isole de Heton. She joins the grisly throng 
now approaching the distracted girl, who falls insensible to the 
ground." 

" Can you see aught more I " asked the hag, as Mistress Nutter 
still bent eagerly over the caldron. 

u No ; the whole chamber is buried in darkness," replied the 
lady ; " I can see nothing of my poor child. What will become 
of her r 

(i I will question Fancy," replied the hag, throwing some fresh 
ingredients into the chafing-dish ; and, as the smoke arose, she 
vociferated, u Come hither, Fancy ; I want thee, my fondling, my 
sweet. Come quickly ! ha ! thou art here." 

The familiar was still invisible to Mistress Nutter, but a slight 
sound made her aware of his presence. 

" And now, my sweet Fancy," pursued the hag, " tell us, if 
thou canst, what will be done with Alizon, and what course we 
must pursue to free her from old Demdike ?" 

" At present she is in a state of insensibility," replied a harsh 
voice, " and she will be kept in that condition till sht is conveyed 
to the summit of Pendle Hill. I have already told you it is use 
less to attempt to take her from Malkin Tower. It is too well 
guarded. Your only chance will be to interrupt the sacrifice." 

"But how, my sweet Fancy? how, my little darling?" in 
quired the hag. 

" It is a perplexing question," replied the voice; " for, by show 
ing you how to obtain possession of the girl, I disobey my lord." 

" Ay, but you serve me you please me, my pretty Fancy," 
cried the hag. " You shall quaff your fill of blood on the morrow, 
if you do this for me. I want to get rid of my old enemy to 
catch her in her own toils to send her to a dungeon to burn 
her ha ! ha ! You must help me, my little sweetheart." 

"I will do all I can," replied the voice; " but Mother Demdike 
is cunning and powerful, and high in favour with my lord. You 
must have mortal aid as well as mine. The officers of justice 
must be there to seize her at the moment when the victim is 
snatched from her, or she will baffle all your schemes." 

" And how shall we accomplish this?" asked Mother Chattox. 



HOW ROUGH LEE WAS AGAIN BESIEGED. 331 

" I will tell you," said Mistress Nutter to the hag. " Let him 
put on the form of Richard Assheton, and in that guise hasten to 
Rough Lee, where he will find the young man's cousin, Nicholas, 
to whom he must make known the dreadful deed about to be 
enacted on Pendle Hill. Nicholas will at once engage to inter 
rupt it. He can arm himself with the weapons of justice by- 
taking with him Roger Nowell, the magistrate, and his myrmi 
don, Potts, the attorney, both of whom are detained prisoners in 
the house by my orders." 

" The scheme promises well, and shall be adopted," replied the 
hag ; " but suppose Richard himself should appear first on the 
scene. Dost know where he is, my sweet Fancy ?" 

ft When I last saw him," replied the voice, u he was lying 
senseless on the ground, at the foot of Malkin Tower, having 
been precipitated from the doorway by Mother Demdike. You 
need apprehend no interference from him." 

" It is well," replied Mother Chattox. " Then take his form, 
my pet, though it is not half as handsome as thy own." 

" A black skin and goat-like limbs are to thy taste, I know/ 1 
replied the familiar, with a laugh. 

" Let me look upon him before he goes, that I may be sure the 
likeness is exact," said Mistress Nutter. 

u Thou nearest, Fancy ! Become visible to her," cried the hag. 

And as she spoke, a figure in all respects resembling Richard 
stood before them. 

" What think you of him ? Will he do ?" said Mother Chattox. 

" Ay," replied the lady; " and now send him off at once. There 
is no time to lose." 

16 1 shall be there in the twinkling of an eye," said the familiarj 
" but I own I like not the task." 

" There is no help for it, my sweet Fancy," cried the hag. 
" I cannot forego my triumph over old Demdike. Now, away 
with thee, and when thou hnst executed thy mission, return and 
tell us how thou hast sped in the matter." 

The familiar promised obedience to her commands, and disap 
peared. 



CHAPTER, XIV. HOW ROUGH LEE WAS AGAIN 
BESIEGED. 

PARSON HOLDEN, it will be remembered, left Rough Lee, 
charged by Potts with a message to Sir Ralph Assheton, inform 
ing him of his detention and that of Roger Nowell, by Mistress 
Nutter, and imploring him to come to their assistance without 
delay. Congratulating himself on his escape, but apprehensive 



332 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

of pursuit, the worthy rector, who, as a keen huntsman, was 
extremely well mounted, made the best of his way, and had 
already passed the gloomy gorge through which Pendle Water 
swept, had climbed the hifl beyond it, and was crossing the moor, 
now alone lying between him and Groldshaw, when he heard a 
shout behind him, and, turning at the sound, beheld Blackadder 
and another mounted serving-man issuing from a thicket, and 
spurring furiously after him. Relying upon the speed of his 
horse, he disregarded their cries, and accelerated his pace ;' but, 
in spite of this, his pursuers gained upon him rapidly. 

While debating the question of resistance or surrender, the 
rector descried Bess Whitaker coming towards him from the 
opposite direction a circumstance that greatly rejoiced him; 
for, aware of her strength and courage, he felt sure he could 
place as much dependence upon her in this emergency as on any 
man in the county. Bess was riding a stout, rough-looking nag, 
apparently well able to sustain her weight, and carried the re 
doubtable horsewhip with her. 

On the other hand, Holden had been recognised by Bess, who 
came up just as he was overtaken and seized by his assailants, 
one of whom caught hold of his cassock, and tore it from his 
back, while the other, seizing hold of his bridle, endeavoured, in 
spite of his efforts to the contrary, to turn his horse round. 
Many oaths, threats, and blows were exchanged during the 
scuffle, which no doubt would have terminated in the rector's 
defeat, and his compulsory return to Rough Lee, had it not been 
for the opportune arrival of Bess, who, swearing as lustily as the 
serving-men, and brandishing the horsewhip, dashed into the 
scene of action, and, with a few well-applied cuts, liberated the 
divine. Enraged at her interference, and smarting from the 
application of the whip, Blackadder drew a petronel from his 
girdle, and levelled it at her head ; but, ere he could discharge it, 
the weapon was stricken from his grasp, and a second blow on 
the head from the but-end of the whip felled him from his horse 
Seeing the fate of his companion, the other serving-man fled, 
leaving Bess mistress of the field. 

The rector thanked her heartily for the service she had ren 
dered him, and complimented her on her prowess. 

"Ey'n neaw dun mitch to boast on i' leatherin' them two 
eeawr-feaced rapscallions," said Bess, with becoming modesty 
" Simon Blackadder an ey ha' had mony a tussle together efore 
this, fo he's a feaw tempert felly, an canna drink abowt fightin', 
boh he has awlus found me more nor his match. Boh save us, 
your reverence, what were the ill-favort gullions ridin' after ye 
for I Firrups tak 'em ! they didna mean to rob ye, surely ? " 

" Their object was to make me prisoner, and carry me back to 
Rough Lee, Bess," replied Holden. They wished to prevent my 
going to \V halley, whither I am bound; to procure help irom feir 



HOW ROUGH LEE WAS AGAIN BESIEGED. 333 

Ralph Assheton to liberate Master Roger Nowell and his attor 
ney, who are forcibly detained by Mistress Nutter." 

" Yo may spare yer horse an yersel the jorney, then, reverend 
sir," replied Bess ; " for yo'n foind Sir Turamus Metcawfe, wi' 
some twanty or throtty followers, armed wi' bills, hawberts, pe- 
tronels, and calivers, at Goldshaw, an they win go wi' ye at wanst, 
ey'm sartin. Ey heerd sum o' t' chaps say os ow Sir Tunimus 
is goin' to tak' possession o' Mistress Robinson's house, Raydale 
Ha', i' Wensley Dale, boh nah doubt he'n go furst wi' yer reVrence, 
'specially as he bears Mistress Nutter a grudge." 

" At all events, I will ask him," said Holden. " Are he and 
his followers lodged at your house, Bess ? " 

" Yeigh," replied the hostess, " some on 'en are i' th' house, 
some i' th' barn, an some i' th' stables. The place is awtogether 
owerrun wi' 'em. Ey wur so moydert an wurrotit wi' their ca'in 
an bawlin fo' ele an drink, that ey swore they shouldna ha' another 
drawp wi' my consent; an, to be os good os my word, ey clapt key 
o' t' cellar i' my pocket, an leavin' our Margit to answer 'em, ey 
set out os yo see, intendin' to go os far as t' mill, an comfort poor 
deeavely Ruchot Baldwyn in his trouble." 

" A most praiseworthy resolution, Bess," said the rector; " but 
what is to be done with this fellow?" he added, pointing to Black- 
adder, who, though badly hurt, was trying to creep towards the 
petronel, which was lying at a little distance from him on the 
ground. 

Perceiving his intention, Bess quickly dismounted, and pos 
sessing herself of the weapon, stepped aside, and slipping off one 
of the bands that confined the hose on her well-shaped leg, grasped 
the wounded man by the shoulders, and with great expedition 
tied his hands behind his back. She then lifted him up with as 
much ease as if he had been an infant, and set him upon his horse, 
with his face towards the tail. This done, she gave the bridle to 
the rector, and handing him the petronel at the same time, told 
him to take care of his prisoner, for she must pursue her journey. 
And with this, in spite of his renewed entreaties that she would 
go back with him, she sprang on her horse and rode off. 

On arriving at Goldshaw with his prisoner, the rector at once 
proceeded to the hostel, in front of which he found several of the 
villagers assembled, attracted by the numerous company within 
doors, whose shouts and laughter could be heard at a considerable 
distance. Holden's appearance with Blackadder occasioned con 
siderable surprise, and all eagerly gathered round him to learn 
what had occurred; but, without satisfying their curiosity, beyond 
telling them he had been attacked by the prisoner, he left him 
in their custody, and entered the house, where he found all the 
benches in the principal room occupied by a crew of half-drunken 
roysterers, with nagons of ale before them ; for, after Bess's de 
parture with the key, they had broken into the cellar, and, 



334 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

broaching a cask, helped themselves to its contents. Various 
weapons were scattered about the tables or reared against the 
walls, and the whole scene looked like a carouse by a band of 
marauders. Little respect was shown the rector, and he was 
saluted by many a ribald jest as he pushed his way towards the 
inner room. 

Sir Thomas was drinking with a couple of desperadoes, whose 
long rapiers and tarnished military equipments seemed to an 
nounce that they had, at some time or other, belonged to the 
army, though their ruffianly looks and braggadocio air and dis 
course, strongly seasoned with oaths and slang, made it evident 
that they were now little better than Alsatian bullies. They had, 
in fact, been hired by Sir Thomas for the expedition on which he 
was bent, as he could find no one in the country upon whom he 
could so well count as on them. Eyeing the rector fiercely, as, 
he intruded upon their privacy, they glanced at their leader to 
ask whether they should turn him out; but, receiving no encou 
ragement for such rudeness, they contented themselves with 
scowling at him from beneath their bent brows, twisting up their 
shaggy mustaches, and trifling with the hilts of their rapiers. 
Holden opened his business at once ; and as soon as Sir Thomas 
heard it, he sprang to his feet, and, swearing a great oath, de 
clared he would storm Rough Lee, and burn it to the ground, if 
Mistress Nutter did not set the two captives free. 

"As to the audacious witch herself) I will carry her off, in 
spite of the devil, her master!" he cried. " How say you, Cap 
tain Gauntlet and you too, Captain Storks, is not this an expe 
dition to your tastes ha ? " 

The two worthies appealed to responded joyously, that it was 
so ; and it was then agreed that Blackadder should be brought 
in and interrogated, as some important information might be 
obtained from him. Upon this, Captain Gauntlet left the room 
to fetch him, and presently afterwards returned dragging in the 
prisoner, who looked dogged and angry, by the shoulders. 

u Harkye, fellow," said Sir Thomas, sternly, " if you do not 
answer the questions I shall put to you, truly and satisfactorily, I 
will have you taken out into the yard, and shot like a dog. Thus 
much premised, I shall proceed with my examination. Master 
Roger Nowell and Master Thomas Potts, you are aware, are 
unlawfully detained prisoners by Mistress Alice Nutter. Now I 
have been called upon by the reverend gentleman here to 
undertake their liberation, but, before doing so, I desire to know 
from you what defensive and offensive preparations your 
mistress has made, and whether you judge it likely she will 
attempt to hold out her house against us?" 

" Most assuredly she will," replied Blackadder, " and against 
twice your force. Rough Lee is as strong as a castle ; and as 
those within it are well-armed, vigilant, and of good courage, 



HOW ROUGH LEE WAS AGAIN BESIEGED. 335 

there is little fear of its capture. If your worship should propose 
terms to my mistress for the release of her prisoners, she may 
possibly assent to them ; but if you approach her in hostile 
fashion, and demand their liberation, I am well assured she will 
resist you, and well assured, also, she will resist you effectually." 

" I shall approach her in no other sort than that of an enemy," 
rejoined Sir Thomas; "but thou art over confident, knave. 
Unless thy mistress have a legion of devils at her back, and they 
hold us in check, we will force a way into her dwelling. Fire and 
fury ! dost presume to laugh at me, fellow ? Take him hence, and 
let him be soundly cudgeled for his insolence, Gauntlet." 

u Pardon me, your worship," cried Blackadder, a I only smiled 
at the strange notions you entertain of my mistress." 

" Why, dost mean to deny that she is a witch ? " demanded 
Metcalfe. 

" Nay, if your worship will have it so, it is not for me to 
contradict you," replied Blackadder. 

" But I ask thee is she not a servant of Satan ? dost thou 
not know it ? canst thou not prove it ? " cried the knight. 
" Shall we put him to the torture to make him confess?" 

" Ay, tie his thumbs together till the blood burst forth, Sir 
Thomas," said Gauntlet. 

" Or hang him up to yon beam by the heels," suggested 
Captain Storks. 

" On no account," interposed Holden. " I did not bring him 
hither to be dealt with in this way, and I will not permit it. If 
torture is to be administered it must be by the hands of justice, 
into which I require him to be delivered ; and then, if he can 
testify aught against his mistress, he will be made to do it." 

" Torture shall never wring a word from me, whether wrong 
fully or rightfully applied," said Blackadder, doggedly; " though I 
could tell much if I chose. Now give heed to me, Sir Thomas. 
You will never take Rough Lee, still less its mistress, without my 

"What are thy terms, knave?" exclaimed the knight, 
pondering upon the offer. " And take heed thou triflest not 
with me, or I will have thee flogged within an inch of thy life, in 
spite of parson or justice. What are thy terms, I repeat !" 

6 They are for your worship's ear alone," replied Blackadder. 

" Beware what you do, Sir Thomas," interposed Holden. " I 
hold it my duty to tell you, you are compromising justice in 
listening to the base proposals of this man, who, while offering to 
betray his mistress, will assuredly deceive you. You will equally 
deceive him in feigning to agree to terms which you cannot fulfil." 

" Cannot fulfil!" ejaculated the knight, highly offended; lt I 
would have you to know, sir, that Sir Thomas Metcalfe's word is 
his bond, and that whatsoever he promises he will fulfil in spite of 
the devil ! Body o' me ! but for the respect I owo your cloth, i 



336 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

would give you a very different answer, reverend sir. But since 
you have chosen to thrust yourself unasked into the affair, I take 
leave to say that I will hear this knave's proposals, and judge for 
myself of the expediency of acceding to them. I must pray you, 
therefore, to withdraw. Nay, if you will not go hence peaceably, 
you shall perforce. Take hitn away, gentlemen." 

Thus enjoined, the Alsatian captains took each an arm of the 
rector, and forced him out of the room, leaving Sir Thomas alone 
with the prisoner. Greatly incensed at the treatment he had 
experienced, Holden instantly quitted the house, hastened to the 
rectory, which adjoined the church, and having given some 
messages to his household, rode off to Whalley, with the intention 
of acquainting Sir Ralph Assheton with all that had occurred. 

Sir Thomas Metcalfe remained closeted with the prisoner for a 
few minutes, and then coming forth, issued orders that all should 
get ready to start for Rough Lee without delay ; whereupon each 
man emptied his flagon, pocketed the dice he had been cogging, 
pushed aside the shuffle-board, left the loggats on the clay floor of 
the barn, and, grasping his weapon halbert or caliver, as it 
might be prepared to attend his leader. Sir Thomas 
did not relate, even to the Alsatian captains, what had passed 
between him and Blackadder ; but it did not appear that he 
placed entire confidence in the latter ; for though he caused his 
hands to be unbound, and allowed him in consideration of his 
wounded state to ride, he secretly directed Gauntlet and Storks 
to keep near him, and shoot him through the head if he attempted 
to escape. Both these personages were provided with horses as 
well as their leader, but all the rest of the party were on foot. 
Metcalfe made some inquiries after the rector, but finding he was 
gone, he did not concern himself further about him. Before 
starting, the knight, who, with all his recklessness, had a certain 
sense of honesty, called the girl who had been left in charge of 
the hostel by Bess, and gave her a sum amply sufficient to cover 
all the excesses of his men, adding a handsome gratuity to herself. 

The first part of the journey was accomplished without mis 
chance, and the party bade fair to arrive at the end of it in safety ; 
but as they entered the gorge, at the extremity of which Rough 
Lee was situated, a terrific storm burst upon them, compelling 
them to seek shelter in the mill, from which they were luckily not 
far distant at the time. The house was completely deserted, but 
they were well able to shift for themselves, and not over 
scrupulous in the manner of doing so; and as the remains of the 
funeral feast were not removed from the table, some of the com 
pany sat down to them, while others found their way to the 
cellar. 

The storm was of long continuance, much longer than was 
agreeable to Sir Thomas, and he paced the room to and fro 
impatiently, ever and anon walking to the window or door, to see 



HOW ROUGH LEE WAS AGAIN BESIEGED. 337 

whether it had in any degree abated, and was constantly doomed 
to disappointment. Instead of diminishing, it increased in 
violence, and it was now impossible to quit the house with safety. 
The lightning blazed, the thunder rattled among the overhanging 
rocks, end the swollen stream of Pendle Water roared at their 
feet. Blackadder was left under the care of the two Alsatians, 
but while they had shielded their eyes from the glare of the 
lightning, he threw open the window, and, springing through it, 
made good his retreat. In such a storm it was in vain to follow 
him, even if they had dared to attempt it. 

In vain Sir Thomas Metcalfe fumed and fretted in vain he 
heaped curses upon the bullies for their negligence in vain 
he hurled menaces after the fugitive : the former paid little heed 
to his imprecations, and the latter was beyond his reach. The 
notion began to gain ground amongst the rest of the troop that 
the storm was the work of witchcraft, and occasioned general 
consternation. Even the knight's anger yielded to superstitious 
fear, and as a terrific explosion shook the rafters overhead, and 
threatened to bring them down upon him, he fell on his knees, 
and essayed, with unaccustomed lips, to murmur a prayer. But 
he was interrupted ; for amid the deep silence succeeding the 
awful crash, a mocking laugh was heard, and the villainous coun 
tenance of Blackadder, rendered doubly hideous by the white 
lightning, was seen at the casement. The sight restored Sir 
Thomas at once. Drawing his sword he flew to the window, but 
before he could reach it Blackadder was gone. The next flash 
showed what had befallen him. In stepping backwards, he 
tumbled into the mill-race; and the current, increased in depth 
and force by the deluging rain, instantly swept him away. 

Half an hour alter this, the violence of the storm had per 
ceptibly diminished, and Sir Thomas and his companions began 
to hope that their speedy release was at hand. Latterly the 
knight had abandoned all idea of attacking Rough Lee, but with 
the prospect of fair weather his courage returned, and he once 
more resolved to attempt it. He was moving about among his 
followers, striving to dispel their fears, and persuade them that 
the tempest was only the result of natural causes, when the door 
was suddenly thrown open, giving entrance to Bess Whitaker, 
who bore the miller in her arms. She stared on seeing the party 
assembled, and knit her brows, but said nothing till she had 
deposited Baldwyn in a seat, when she observed to Sir Thomas, 
that he seemed to have little scruple in taking possession of " 
house in its owner's absence. The knight excused himself for the 
intrusion by saying, he had been compelled by the storm to take 
refuge there with his followers a plea readily admitted by 
Baldwyn, who was now able to speak for himself ; and the miller 
next explained that he had been to Rough Lee, and after many 
perilous adventures, into the particulars of which he did not enter, 



338 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

had been brought away by Bess, who had carried him home. 
That home he now felt would be a lonely and insecure one unless 
she would consent to occupy it with him ; and Bess, on being thus 
appealed to, affirmed that the only motive that would induce her 
to consent to such an arrangement would be her desire to protect 
him from his mischievous neighbours. While they were thus 
discoursing, Old Mitton, who it appeared had followed them, 
irrived wellnigh exhausted, and Baldwyn went in search of some 
refreshment for him. ' 

By this time the storm had sufficiently cleared off to allow the 
others to take their departure; and though the miller and Bess 
would fain have dissuaded the knight from the enterprise, he was 
not to be turned aside, but, bidding his men attend him, set forth. 
The rain had ceased, but it was still very dark. Under cover of 
the i^loom, however, they thought they could approach the house 
unobserved, and obtain an entrance before Mistress Nutter could 
be aware of their arrival. In this expectation they pursued their 
way in silence, and soon stood before the gates. These were 
fastened, but as no one appeared to be on the watch, Sir Thomas, 
in a low tone, ordered some of his men to scale the walls, with 
the intention of following himself; but scarcely had a head risen 
above the level of the brickwork than the flash of an arquebuss 
was seen, and the man jumped backwards, luckily just in time to 
avoid the bullet that whistled over him. An alarm was then 
instantly given, voices were heard in the garden, mingled with 
the furious barking of hounds. A bell was rung from the upper 
part of the house, and lights appeared at the windows. 

Meanwhile, some of the men, less alarmed than their comrade, 
contrived to scramble over the wall, and were soon engaged hand 
to hand with those on the opposite side. But not alone had they 
to contend with adversaries like themselves. The stag-hounds, 
which had done so much execution during the first attack upon 
the house by Koger No well, raged amongst them like so many 
lions, rending their limbs, and seizing their throats. To free 
themselves from these formidable antagonists was their first 
business, and by dint of thrust from pike, cut from sword, and 
ball from caliver, they succeeded in slaughtering two of them, and 
driving the others, badly wounded, and savagely howling, away. 
In doing this, however, they themselves had sustained consider 
able injury. Three of their number were lying on the ground, in 
no condition, from their broken heads, or shattered limbs, for 
renewing the combat. 

Thus, so far as the siege had gone, success seemed to declare 
itself rather for the defenders than the assailants, when a new 
impulse was given to the latter, by the bursting open of the gates, 
and the sudden influx of Sir Thomas Metcalfe and the rest of his 
troop. The knight was closely followed by the Alsatian captains, 
who, with tremendous oaths in their mouths, and slashing blades 



HOW UOUGH LEE WAS AGAIN BESIEGED. 339 

in their hands, declared they would make minced meat of any one 
opposing their progress. Sir Thomas was equally truculent in 
expression and ferocious in tone, and as the whole party laid 
about them right and left, they speedily routed the defenders of 
the garden, and drove them towards the house. Flushed by their 
success, the besiegers shouted loudly, and Sir Thomas roared out, 
that ere many minutes Nowell and Potts should be set free, and 
Alice Nutter captured. But before he could reach the main door, 
Nicholas Assheton, well armed, and attended by some dozen men, 
presented himself at it. These were instantly joined by the 
retreating party, and the whole offered a formidable array of 
opponents, quite sufficient to check the progress of the besiegers. 
Two or three of the men near Nicholas carried torches, and their 
light revealed the numbers on both sides. 

" What ! is it you, Sir Thomas Metcalfe ? " cried the squire. 
" Do you commit such outrages as this do you break into 
habitations like a robber, rifle them, and murder their inmates ? 
Explain yourself, sir, or I will treat you as I would a common 
plunderer ; shoot you through the head, or hang you to the first 
tree if I take you." 

" Zounds and fury ! " rejoined Metcalfe. " Do you dare to 
liken me to a common robber and murderer ? Take care you do 
not experience the same fate as that with which you threaten me, 
with this difference only, that the hangman the common hang 
man of Lancaster shall serve your turn. I am come hither to 
arrest a notorious witch, and to release two gentlemen who are 
unlawfully detained prisoners by her ; and if you do not instantly 
deliver her up to me, and produce the two individuals in question, 
Master Roger Nowell and Master Potts, I will force my way into 
the house, and all injury done to those who oppose me will rest on 
your head." . 

" The two gentlemen you have named are perfectly safe and 
contented in their quarters," replied Nicholas ; " and as to the 
foul and false aspersions you have thrown out against Mistress 
Nutter, I cast them back in your teeth. Your purpose in coming 
hither is to redress some private wrong. How is it you have 
such a rout with you ? How is it I behold two notorious bravos by 
your side men who have stood in the pillory, and undergone 
other ignominious punishment for their offences? You cannot 
answer, and their oaths and threats go for nothing. I now tell 
you, Sir Thomas, if you do not instantly withdraw your men, and 
quit these premises, grievous consequences will ensue to you and 
them." 

" I will hear no more," cried Sir Thomas, infuriated to the last 
degree. " Follow me into the house, and spare none who oppose 
you." 

" You are not in yet, ' cried Nicholas. 

And as he spoke a row of pikes bristled around him, holding 



340 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

the knight at bay, while a hook was fixed in the doublet of each 
of the Alsatian captains, and they were plucked forward and 
dragged into the house. This done, Nicholas and his men 
quickly retreated, and the door was closed and barred upon the 
enraged and discomfited knight. 



CHAPTER XY. THE PHANTOM MONK. 

MANY hours had passed by, and night had come on a 
night profoundly dark. Richard was still lying where he had 
fallen at the foot of Malkin Tower; for though he had regained 
his sensibility, he was so bruised and shaken as to be wholly 
unable to move. His limbs, stiffened and powerless, refused their 
office, and, after each unsuccessful effort, he sank back with a 
groan. 

His sole hope was that Mistress Nutter, alarmed by his pro 
longed absence, might come to her daughter's assistance, and so 
discover his forlorn situation ; but as time flew by, and nothing 
occurred, he gave himself up for lost. 

On a sudden the gloom was dispersed, and a silvery light shed 
over the scene. The moon had broken through a rack of clouds, 
and illumined the tall mysterious tower, and the dreary waste 
around it. With the light a ghostly figure near him became 
visible to Richard, which under other circumstances would have 
excited terror in his breast, but which now only filled him with 
wonder. It was that of a Cistertian monk ; the vestments were 
old and faded, the visage white and corpse-like. Richard at once 
recognised the phantom he had seen in the banquet- hall at the 
Abbey, and had afterwards so rashly followed to the conventual 
church. It touched him with its icy fingers, and a dullness like 
death shot through his heart. 

" Why dost thou trouble me thus, unhappy spirit?" said the 
young man. " Leave me, I adjure thee, and let me die in peace !" 

" Thou wilt not die yet, Richard Assheton," returned the phan 
tom ; " and my intention is not to trouble thee, but to serve thee. 
Without my aid thou wouldst perish where thou liest, but I will 
raise thee up, and set thee on thy way." 

" Wilt thou help me to liberate Alizon?" demanded Richard. 

" Do not concern thyself further about her," replied the phantom; 
" she must pass through an ordeal with which nothing human 
may interfere. If she escape it you will meet again. If not, it 
were better thou shouldst be in thy grave than see her. Take this 
phial. Drink thou the liquid it contains, and thy strength will 
return to thee." 

" How do I know thou art not sent hither by Mother Demdike 




THE PHANTOM MONK. 



P. 340. 



THE PHANTOM MONK. 



341 



to tempt me ?" demanded Richard, doubtfully. " I have already 
fallen into her snares," he added, with a groan. 

" I am Mother Demdike's enemy, and the appointed instrument 
of her punishment," replied the monk, in a tone that did not ad 
mit of question. " Drink, and fear nothing." 

Richard obeyed, and the next moment sprang to his feet. 

" Thou hast indeed restored me I" he cried. " I would fain reach 
the secret entrance to the tower." 

"Attempt it not, I charge thee !" cried the phantom; "but 
depart instantly for Pendle Hill." 

" Wherefore should I go thither?" demanded Richard. 

" Thou wilt learn anon," returned the monk. " I cannot tell 
thee more now. Dismount at the foot of the hill, and proceed to 
the beacon. Thou know'st it?" 

" I do," replied Richard. " There a fire was lighted which was 
meant to set all England in a blaze." 

" And which led many good men to destruction," said the monk, 
in a tone of indescribable sadness. " Alas ! for him who kindled 
it. The offence is not yet worked out. But depart without more 
delay ; and look not back." 

As Richard hastened towards the spot where he had left Merlin, 
he fancied he was followed by the phantom ; but, obedient to the 
injunction he received, he did not turn his head. As he mounted 
the horse, who neighed cheerily as he drew near, he found he was 
right in supposing the monk to be behind him, for he heard his 
voice calling out, u Linger not by the way. To the beacon ! to 
the beacon ! " 

Thus exhorted, the young man dashed off, and, to his great 
surprise, found Merlin as fresh as if he had undergone no fatigue 
during the day. It would almost seem, from his spirit, that he 
had partaken of the same wondrous elixir which had revived his 
master. Down the hill he plunged, regardless of the steep descent, 
and soon entered the thicket where the storm had fallen upon 
them, and where so many acts of witchcraft were performed. Now, 
neither accident nor obstacle occurred to check the headlong pace 
of the animal, though the stones rattled after him as he struck 
them with his flying hoof. The moonlight quivered on the branches 
of the trees, and on the tender spray, and all looked as tranquil 
and beautiful as it had so lately been gloomy and disturbed. The 
wood was passed, and the last and steepest descent cleared. The 
little bridge was at hand, and beneath was Pendle Water, rushing 
over its rocky bed, and glittering like silver in the moon's rays. 
But here Richard had wellnigh received a check. A party of 
armed men, it proved, occupied the road leading to Rough Lee, 
about a bow-shot from the bridge, and as soon as they perceived 
he was taking the opposite course, with the apparent intention of 
avoiding them, they shouted to him to stay. This shout made 
Richard aware of their presence, for he had not before observed 



342 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

them, as they were concealed by the intervention of some 
trees ; but though surprised at the circumstance, and not without 
apprehension that they might be there with a hostile design to 
Mistress Nutter, he did not slacken his pace. A horseman, who 
appeared to be their leader, rode after him for a short distance, 
but finding pursuit futile, he desisted, pouring forth a volley of 
oaths and threats, in a voice that proclaimed him as Sir Thomas 
Metcalfe. This discovery confirmed Richard in his supposition 
that mischief was intended Mistress Nutter ; but even this convic 
tion, strengthened by his antipathy to Metcalfe, was not sufficiently 
strong to induce him to stop. Promising himself to return on the 
morrow, and settle accounts with the insolent knight, he speeded 
on, and, passing the mill, tracked the rocky gorge above it, and 
began to mount another hill. Despite the ascent, Merlin never 
slackened his pace, but, though his master would have restrained 
him, held on as before. But the brow of the hill attained, Rich 
ard compelled him to a brief halt. 

By this time the sky was comparatively clear, but small clouds 
were sailing across the heavens, and at one moment the moon 
would be obscured by them, and the next, burst forth with sudden 
effulgence. These alternations produced corresponding effects 
on the broad, brown, heathy plain extending below, and fantastic 
shadows were cast upon it, which it needed not Richard's heated 
imagination to liken to evil beings flying past. The wind, too, 
lay in the direction of the north end of Pendle Hill, whither Rich 
ard was about to shape his course, and the shadows consequently 
trooped off towards that quarter. The vast mass of Pendle rose 
in gloomy majesty before him, being thrown into shade, except 
at its crown, where a flood of radiance rested. 

Like an eagle swooping up n his prey, Richard descended into 
the valley, and like a stag pursued by the huntsman he speeded 
across it. Neither dyke, morass, nor stone wall checked him, or 
made him turn aside ; and almost as fast as the clouds hurrying 
above him, and their shadows travelling at his feet, did he reach 
the base of Pendle Hill. 

Making up to a shed, which, though empty, luckily contained a 
wisp or two of hay, he turned Merlin into it, and commenced the 
ascent of the hill on foot. After attaining a considerable eleva 
tion, he looked down from the giddy heights upon the valley he had 
just traversed. A few huts, forming the little village of Barley, 
lay sleeping in the moonlight beneath him, while further off could 
be just discerned Goldshaw, with its embowered church. A line 
of thin vapour marked the course of Pendle Water, and thicker 
mists hovered over the mosses. The shadows were still passing 
over the plain. 

Pressing on, Richard soon came among the rocks protruding 
from the higher part of the hill, and as the path was here not more 
than a foot wide, rarely taken except by the sheep and their guar- 



THE PHANTOM MONK. 343 

dians, it was necessary to proceed with the utmost caution, as a 
single false step would have been fatal. After some toil, and not 
without considerable risk, he reached the summit of the hill. 

As he bounded over the springy turf, and inhaled the pure air 
of that exalted region, his spirits revived, and new elasticity was 
communicated to his limbs. He shaped his course near the edge 
of the hill, so that the extensive view it commanded was fully dis 
played. But his eye rested on the mountainous range on the op 
posite side of the valley, where Malkin Tower was situated. Even 
in broad day the accursed structure would have been invisible, as 
it stood on the further side of the hill, overlooking Barrowford 
and Colne ; but Richard knew its position well, and while his 
gaze was fixed upon the point, he saw a star shoot down from the 
heavens and apparently alight near the spot. The circumstance 
alarmed him, for he could not help thinking it ominous of ill to 
Alizon. 

Nothing, however, followed to increase Ms misgivings, and ere 
long he came in sight of the beacon. The ground had been gradu 
ally rising, and if he had proceeded a few hundred yards further, 
a vast panorama would have opened upon him, comprising a large 
part of Lancashire on the one hand, and yn the other an equally 
extensive portion of Yorkshire. Forest and fell, black moor and 
bright stream, old castle and stately hall, would have then been 
laid before him as in a map. But other thoughts engrossed him, 
and he went straight on. As far as he could discern he was alone 
on the hill top ; and the silence and solitude, coupled with the ill 
report of the place, which at this hour was said to be often visited 
by foul hags, for the performance of their unhallowed rites, awak 
ened superstitious fears in his breast. 

He was soon by the side of the beacon. The stones were still 
standing as they had been reared by Paslew, and on looking at 
them he was astonished to find the hollow within them filled with 
dry furze, brushwood, and fagots, as if in readiness for another 
signal. In passing round the circle, his surprise was still further 
increased by discovering a torch, and not far from it, in one of 
the interstices of the stones, a dark lantern, in which, on remov 
ing the shade, he found a candle burning. It was now clear the 
beacon was to be kindled that night, though for what end he 
could not conjecture, and equally clear that he was brought 
thither to fire it. He put back the lantern into its place, took up 
the torch, and held himself in readiness. 

Half an hour elapsed, and nothing occurred. During this in 
terval it had become dark. A curtain of clouds was drawn over 
the moon and stars. 

Suddenly, a hurtling noise was heard in the air, and it seemed 
to the watcher as i f a troop of witches were alighting at a distance 
from him. 

A loud hubbub of voices ensued then there was a trampling 



344 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

of feet, accompanied by discordant strains of music after which 
a momentary silence ensued, and a harsh voice asked 

" Why are we brought hither?" 

"It is not for a sabbath/' shouted another voice, (( for there is 
neither fire nor caldron." 

" Mother Demdike would not summon us without good reason," 
cried a third. ' 4 We shall learn presently what we have to do." 

" The more mischief the better," rejoined another voice v 

"Ay, mischief! mischief! mischief!" echoed the rest of the 
crew. 

" You shall have enough of it to content you," rejoined 
Mother Demdike. " I have called you hither to be present at a 
sacrifice." 

Hideous screams of laughter followed this announcement, and 
the voice that had spoken first asked 

" A sacrifice of whom I * 

"An unbaptised babe, stolen from its sleeping mother's breast," 
rejoined another. "Mother Demdike has often played that trick 
before ho! ho!" 

" Peace !" thundered the hag " It is no babe I am about to 
kill, but a full-grown maid ay, and one of rarest beauty, too. 
What think ye of Alizon Device ?" 

" Thy grand- daughter !" cried several voices, in surprise. 

" Alice Nutter's daughter for such she is," rejoined the hag. 
si I have held her captive in Malkin Tower, and have subjected 
her to every trial and temptation I could devise, but I have failed 
in shaking her courage, or in winning her over to our master. 
All the horrors of the vault have been tried upon her in vain. 
Even the last terrible ordeal, which no one has hitherto sustained, 
proved ineffectual. She went through it unmoved." 

" Heaven be praised ! " murmured Richard. 

" It seems I have no power over her soul " pursued the hag ; 
u but I have over her body, and she shall die here, and by my 
hand. But mind me, not a drop of blood must fall to the 
ground.'* 

u Have no fear," cried several voices, " we will catch it in our 
palms and quaft it." 

"Hast thou thy knife, Mould-heels?" asked Mother Demdike. 

"Ay," replied the other, "it is long and sharp, and will do 
thy business well. Thy grandson, Jem Device, notched it by 
killing swine, and my gooduian ground it only yesterday. 
Take it." 

" 1 will plunge it to her heart I" cried Mother Demdike, with 
an infernal laugh. " And now I will tell you why we have 
neither fire nor caldron. On questioning the ebon image in the 
vault as to the place where the sacrifice should be made, I 
received for ansuer that it must be here, and in darkness. No 
human eye but our own must behold it. We are safe on this 



ONE O'CLOCK I 345 

score, for no one is likely to come hither at this hour. ^ No fire 
must be kindled, or the sacrifice will result in destruction to us 
all. Ye have heard, and understand ? " 

te We do," replied several husky voices. 

rt And so do I," said Richard, taking hold of the dark lantern. 

" And now for the girl," cried Mother Demdike. 



CHAPTER XVI. ONE O'CLOCK 1 

MISTRESS NUTTER and Mother Chattox were still at the hut, 
impatiently awaiting the return of Fancy. But nearly an hour 
elapsed before he appeared. 

" What has detained thee so long?" demanded the hag, 
sharply, as he stood before them. 

" You shall hear, mistress," replied Fancy : " I have had a 
busy time of it, I assure you, and thought I should never accom 
plish my errand. On arriving at Rough Lee, I found the place 
invested by Sir Thomas Metcalfe and a host of armed men, who 
had been sent thither by Parson Holden, for the joint purpose of 
arresting you, madam," addressing Mistress Nutter, " and liber 
ating No well and Potts. The knight was in a great fume ; for, 
in spite of the force brought against it, the house had been 
stoutly defended by Nicholas Assheton, who had worsted the 
besieging party, and captured two Alsatian captains, hangers on 
of Sir Thomas. Appearing in the character of an enemy, I was 
immediately surrounded by Metcalfe and his men, who swore 
they would cut my throat unless I undertook to procure the 
liberation of the two bravos in question, as well as that of Nowell 
and Potts. I told them I was come for the express purpose of 
setting tree the two last-named gentlemen ; but, with respect to 
the former, I had no instructions, and they must arrange the 
matter with Master Nicholas himself. Upon this Sir Thomas 
became exceedingly wroth and insolent, and proceeded to such 
lengths that I resolved to chastise him, and in so doing per 
formed a feat which will tend greatly to exalt Richard's character 
for courage and strength." 

" Let us hear it, my doughty champion," cried Mother Chattox. 

" While Metcalfe was pouring forth his rage, and menacing me 
with uplifted hand," pursued the familiar, " I seized him by the 
throat, dragged him from his horse, and in spite of the eilorts of 
his men, whose blows fell upon me thick as hail, and quite as 
harmlessly, I bore him through the garden to the back of the 
house, where my shouts soon brought Nicholas and others to my 
assistance, and after delivering my captive to them, I dismounted. 
The squire, you will imagine, was astonished to see me, and 



346 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

greatly applauded my prowess. I replied, with the modesty be 
coming my assumed character, that I had done nothing, and, in 
reality, the feat was nothing to me ; but I told him I had some 
thing of the utmost importance to communicate, and which could 
not be delayed a moment ; whereupon he led me to a small room 
adjoining the hall, while the crestfallen knight was left to ven], 
his rage and mortification on the grooms to whose custody he 
was committed." 

" You acted your part to perfection," said Mistress Nutfer. 

" Ay, trust my sweet Fancy for that," said the hag " there is 
no familiar like him none whatever." 

" Your praises make me blush," rejoined Fancy. " But to pro 
ceed. I fulfilled your instructions to the letter, and excited 
Nicholas's horror and indignation by the tale I told him. I 
laughed in my sleeve all the while, but I maintained a very dif 
ferent countenance with him. He thought me full of anguish 
and despair. He questioned me as to my proceedings at Malkin 
Tower, and I amazed him with the description of a fearful storm 
I had encountered of my interview with old Demdike, and her 
atrocious treatment of Alizon to all of which he listened with 
profound interest. Richard himself could not have moved him 
more perhaps not so much. As soon as I had finished, he 
vowed he would rescue Alizon from the murtherous hag, and 
prevent the latter from committing further mischief; and bidding 
me come with him, we repaired to the room in which Nowell and 
Potts were confined. We found them both fast asleep in their 
chairs ; but Nicholas quickly awakened them, and some explana 
tions ensued, which did not at first appear very clear and satis 
factory to either magistrate or attorney, but in the end they 
agreed to accompany us on the expedition, Master Potts declaring 
it would compensate him for all his mischances if he could arrest 
Mother Demdike." 

" I hope he may have his wish," said Mother Chattox. 

"Ay, but he declared that his next step should be to arrest 
you, mistress," observed Fancy, with a laugh. 

" Arrest me ! " cried the hag. " Marry, let him touch me, if 
he dares. My term is not out yet, and, with thee to defend me, 
my brave Fancy, I have no fear." 

" Right !" replied the familiar; " but to go on with my story. 
Sir Thomas Metcalfe was next brought forward ; and after some 
warm altercation, peace was at length established between him 
and the squire, and hands were shaken all round. Wine was 
then called for by Nicholas, who, at the same time, directed that 
the two Alsatian captains should be brought up from the cellar, 
where they had been placed for safety. The first part of the 
order was obeyed, but the second was found impracticable, inas 
much as the two heroes had found their way to the inner cellar, 
and had emptied so many flasks that they were utterly incapable 



ONE O'CLOCK! 347 

of moving. While the wine was being discussed, an unexpected 
arrival took place." 

"An arrival! of whom?" inquired Mistress Nutter, eagerly. 

" Sir Ralph Assheton and a large party," replied Fancy. 
" Parson Holden, it seems, not content with sending Sir Thomas 
and his rout to the aid of his friends, had proceeded for the same 
purpose to Whalley, and the result was the appearance of the 
new party. A brief explanation from Nicholas and myself served 
to put Sir Ralph in possession of all that had occurred, and he 
declared his readiness to accompany the expedition to Pendle 
Hill, and to take all his followers with him. Sir Thomas Metcalfe 
expressed an equally strong desire to go with him, and of course 
it was acceded to. I am bound to tell you, madam," added 
Fancy to Mistress Nutter, st that your conduct is viewed in a 
most suspicious light by every one of these persons, except 
Nicholas, who made an effort to defend you." 

" I care not what happens to me, if I succeed in rescuing 
my child," said the lady. rt But have they set out on the 
expedition * " 

" By this time, no doubt they have," replied Fancy. " I got 
off by saying I would ride on to Pendle Hill, and, stationing 
myself on its summit, give them a signal when they should ad 
vance upon their prey. And now, good mistress, 1 pray you 
dismiss me. I want to cast off this shape, which I find an in- 
cumbrance, and resume my own. I will return when it is time 
for you to set out." 

The hag waved her hand, and the familiar was gone. 

Half an hour elapsed, and he returned not. Mistress Nutter 
became fearfully impatient. Three-quarters, and even the old 
hag was uneasy. An hour, and he stood before them dwarfish, 
fiendish, monstrous. 

" It is time," he said, in a harsh voice ; but the tones were 
music in the wretched mother's ears. 

" Come, then," she cried, rushing wildly forth. 

" Ay, ay, I come," replied the hag, following her. " Not so fast. 
You cannot go without me." 

" Nor either of you without me," added Fancy. " Here, good 
mistress, is your broomstick." 

" Away for Pendle Hill !" screamed the hag. 

"Ay, for Pendle Hill!" echoed Fancy. 

And there was a whirling of dark figures through the air as 
before. 

Presently they alighted on the summit of Pendle Hill, which 
seemed to be wrapped in a dense cloud, for Mistress Nutter could 
scarcely see a yard before her. Fancy's eyes, however, were 
powerful enough to penetrate the gloom, for stepping back a few 
yards, he said 

" The expedition is at the foot of the hill, where thev have 



348 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

made a halt. We must wait a few moments, till I can ascertain 
what they mean to do. Ah ! I see. They are dividing into three 
parties. One detachment, headed by Nicholas Assheton, with 
whom are Potts and Nowell, is about to make the ascent from 
the spot where they now stand; another, commanded by Sir Ralph 
Assheton, is moving towards the but-end of the hill; and the 
third, headed by Sir Thomas Metcalfe, is proceeding to the right. 
These are goodly preparations ha! ha! But, what do \ behold? 
The first detachment have a prisoner with them. It is Jem De 
vice, whom they have captured on the way, I suppose. I can tell 
from the rascal's looks that he is planning an escape. Patience, 
madam, I must see how he executes his design. There is no 
hurry. They are all scrambling up the hill-sides. Some one 
slips, and rolls down, and bruises himself severely against the 
loose stones. Ho ! ho ! it is Master Potts. He is picked up by 
James Device, who takes him on his shoulders. What means 
the knave by such attention ? We shall see anon. They con 
tinue to fight their way upward, and have now reached the 
narrow path among the rocks. Take heed, or your necks will 
be broken. Ho! ho! Well done, Jem, bravo! lad. Thy scheme 
is out now ho! ho!" 

" What has he done?" asked Mother Chattox. 

" Hun off with the attorney with Master Potts," replied 
Fancy ; u disappeared in the gloom, so that it is impossible 
Nicholas can follow him ho! ho!" 

" But my child ! where is my child?" cried Mistress Nutter, 
in agitated impatience. 

" Come with me, and I will lead you to her," replied Fancy, 
taking her hand ; u and do you keep close to us, mistress," 
he added to Mother Chattox. 

Moving quickly along the heathy plain, they soon reached a 
small dry hollow, about a hundred paces from the beacon, in the 
midst of which, as in a grave, was deposited the inanimate form 
of Alizon. When the spot was indicated to her by Fancy, the 
miserable mother flew to it, and, with indescribable delight, 
clasped her child to her breast. But the next moment, a new 
fear seized her, for the limbs were stiff and cold, and the heart 
had apparently ceased to beat. 

" She is dead ! " exclaimed Mistress Nutter, frantically. 

"No; she is only in a magical trance," said Fancy; "my mis 
tress can instantly revive her." 

" Prithee do so, then, good Chattox," implored the lady. 

" Better defer it till we have taken her hence," rejoined the hag. 

"Oh! no, now now! Let me be assured she lives!" cried 
Mistress Nutter. 

Mother Chattox reluctantly assented, and, touching Alizon 
with her skinny finger, first upon the heart and then upon the 
brow, the poor girl be^an to show symptoms of life. 



ONE O'CLOCK ! 

"My child my child!* cried Mistress Nutter, straining her 
to her breast ; " I am come to save thee !" 

" You will scarce succeed, if you tarry here longer," said Fancy. 
"Away!" 

" Ay, come away!" shrieked the hag, seizing Alizon's arm. 
"Where are you about to take her?" asked Mistress Nutter. 
" To my hut," replied Mother Chattox. 
" No, no she shall not go there," returned the lady. 
" And wherefore not ? " screamed the hag. " She is mine now, 
and I say she shall go." 

" Right, mistress," said Fancy; " and leave the lady here if she 
objects to accompany her. But be quick." 

" You shall not take her from me I" shrieked Mistress Nutter, 
holding her daughter fast. " I see through your diabolical 
purpo e. You have the same dark design as Mother Demdike, 
and would sacrifice her ; but she shall not go with you, neither 
will I." 

"Tut!" exclaimed the hag, "you have lost your senses on a 
sudden. I do not want your daughter. But come away, or 
Mother Demdike will surprise us." 

" Do not trifle with her longer," whispered Fancy to the hag ; 
" drag the girl away, or you will lose her. A few moments, and 
it will be too late." 

Mother Chattox made an attempt to obey him, but Mistress 
Nutter resisted her. 

"Curses on her!" she muttered, "she is too strong for me. 
Do thou help me," she added, appealing to Fancy. 

" I cannot," he replied ; " I have done all 1 dare to help you* 
You must accomplish the rest yourself." 
" But, my sweet imp, recollect * 
" I recollect I have a master," interrupted the familiar. 
" And a mistress, too," cried the hag ; " and she will chastise 
thee if thou art disobedient. I command thee to carry off this 
girl." 

" I have already told you 1 dare not, and I now say I will not/' 
replied Fancy. 

" Will not !" shrieked the hag. " Thou shalt smart for this. I 
will bury thee in the heart of this mountain, and make thee labour 
within it like a gnome. I will set thee to count the sands on the 
river's bed, and the leaves on the forest trees. Thou shalt know 
neither rest nor respite." 

"Ho! ho! ho!" laughed Fancy, mockingly. 
"Dost deride me?" cried the hag. " I will do it, thou saucy 
jackanapes. For the last time, wilt obey me?" 

" No," replied Fancy, " and for this reason your term is out. 
It expired at midnight. 

" It is fake !" shrieked the hag, in accents of mixed terror and 
rage. " 1 have months to run, and will renew it." 



350 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

" Before midnight, you might have done so ; but it is now too 
late your reign is over," rejoined Fancy. " Farewell, sweet 
mistress. We shall meet once again, though scarcely under such 
pleasant circumstances as heretofore." 

st It cannot be, my darling Fancy; thou art jesting with me," 
whimpered the hag ; " thou wouldst not delude thy doating mis 
tress thus." 

" I have done with thee, foul hag," rejoined the familiar, " and 
am right glad my service is ended. I could have saved thee, but 
would not, and delayed my return for that very purpose. Thy 
soul was forfeited when I came back to thy hut." 

" Then curses on thee for thy treachery," cried the hag, rt and 
on thy master, who deceived me in the bond he placed before me." 
The familiar laughed hoarsely. 

" But what of Mother Demdike I " pursued the hag. " Hast 
thou no comfort for me ? Tell me her hour is likewise come, and 
I will forgive thee. But do not let her triumph over me." 

The familiar made no answer, but, laughing derisively, stamped 
upon the ground, and it opened to receive him. 

" Alizon ! " cried Mistress Nutter, who in the mean time had 
vainly endeavoured to rouse her daughter to full consciousness, 
" fly with me, my child. The enemy is at hand." 

" What enemy ?" asked Alizon, faintly. " I have so many, that 
I know not whom you mean." 

" But this is the worst of all this is Mother Demdike," cried 
Mistress Nutter. " She would take your life. If we can but con 
ceal ourselves for a short while, we are safe." 

" I am too weak to move," said Alizon ; " besides, I dare not 
trust you. I have been deceived already. You may be an evil 
spirit in the likeness of my mother." 

" Oh ! no, I am indeed your own own mother," rejoined Mis 
tress Nutter. " Ask this old woman if it is not so." 

" She is a witch herself," replied Alizon. " I will not trust 
either of you. You are both in league with Mother Demdike." 

" We are in league to save thee from her, foolish wench !" cried 

Mother Chattox, "but thy perversenesswill defeat all our schemes." 

" Since you will not fly, my child," cried Mistress Nutter, "kneel 

down, and pray earnestly for deliverance. Pray, while there is 

yet time." 

As she spoke, a growl like thunder was heard in the air, and 
the earth trembled beneath their feet. 

"Nay, now I am sure you are my mother!" cried Alizon, 
flinging herself into Mistress Nutter's arms ; " and I will go with 
you." 

But before they could move, several dusky figures were seen 
rushing towards them. 

" Be on your guard !" cried Mother Chattox ; " here comes old 
Demdike with her troop. I will aid you all I can." 



ONE O'CLOCK! 351 

" Down on your knees ! " exclaimed Mistress Nutter. 

Alizon obey ed, but ere a word could pass her lips, the infuriated 
hag, attended by her be: dame band, stood beside them. 

" Ha ! who is here 1 " she cried. " Let me see who dares inter 
rupt my mystic rites." 

And raising her hand, the black cloud hanging over the hill was 
rent asunder, and the moon shone down upon them, revealing the 
old witch, armed with the sacrificial knife, her limbs shaking with 
fury, and her eyes flashing with preternatural light. It revealed, 
also, her weird attendants, as well as the group before her, consist 
ing of the kneeling figure of Alizon, protected by the outstretched 
arms of her mother, and further defended by Mother Chattox, who 
planted herself in front of them. 

Mother Demdike eyed the group for a moment as if she would 
annihilate them. 

" Out of my way, Chattox !" she vociferated " out of my way, 
or I will drive my knife to thy heart." And as her old antagonist 
maintained her ground, she unhesitatingly advanced upon her, 
smote her with the weapon, and, as she fell to the ground, stepped 
over her bleeding body. 

" Now what dost thou here, Alice Nutter ? " she cried, menacing 
her with the reeking blade. 

" I am come for my child, whom thou hast stolen from me," 
replied the lady. 

u Thou art come to witness her slaughter," replied the witch, 
fiercely. " Begone, or I will serve thee as I have just served old 
Chattox." 

" I am not sped yet," cried the wounded hag ; rt I shall live to 
see thee bound hand and foot by the officers of justice, and, certain 
thou wilt perish miserably, I shall die content." 

" Spit out thy last drops of venom, black viper," rejoined Mother 
Demdike ; " when I have done with the others, I will return and 
finish thee. Alice Nutter, thou knowest it is vain to struggle with 
me. Give me up the girl." 

" Wilt thou accept my life for hers?" said Mistress Nutter. 

" Of what account would thy life be to me?" rejoined Mother 
Demdike, disdainfully. " If it would profit me to take it, I would 
do so without thy consent, but I am about to make an oblation to 
our master, and thou art his already. Snatch her child from her 
we waste time," she added, to her attendants. 

And immediately the weird crew rushed forward, and in spite 
of the miserable mother's efforts tore Alizon from her. 

u I told you it was in vain to contend with me," said Mother 
Demdike. 

" Oh, that I could call down heaven's vengeance upon thy ac 
cursed head !" cried Mistress Nutter; but I am forsaken alike of 
God and man, and shall die despairing." 

" Have on, thou wilt have ample leisure," replied the hag. " And 



352 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

now bring the girl this way," she added to the beldames ; " the 
sacrifice must be made near the beacon.' 

And as Alizon was borne away, Mistress Nutter uttered a cry 
of anguish. 

" Do not stay here," said Mother Chattox, raising herself with 
difficulty. " Gfo after her ; you may yet save your daughter." 

" But how ? " cried Mistress Nutter, distractedly. " I have no 
power now." 

As she spoke a dusky form rose up beside her. It was her 
familiar. 

" Will you return to your duty if I help you in this extremity? " 
he said. 

"Ay, do, do !" cried Mother Chattox. "Anything to avenge 
yourself upon that murtherous hag." 

" Peace ! * cried the familiar, spurning her with his cloven foot. 

" I do not want vengeance," said Mistress Nutter ; " 1 only want 
to save my child." 

Cs Then you consent on that condition ? " said the familiar. 

"No !" replied Mistress Nutter, firmly. "I now perceive I am 
not utterly lost, since you try to regain me. 1 have renounced 
thy master, and will make no new bargain with him. Get hence, 
tempter ! " 

" Think not to escape us," cried the familiar ; " no penitence 
no absolution can save thee. Thy name is written on the judg 
ment scroll, and cannot be effaced. I would have aided thee, but, 
since my offer is rejected, I leave thee." 

" You will not let him go !" screamed Mother Chattox. " Oh 
that the chance were mine !" 

"Be silent, or I will beat thy brains out!" said the familiar. 
u Once more, am I dismissed ? " 

"Ay, for ever!" replied Mistress Nutter. 

And as the familiar disappeared, she flew to the spot where her 
child had been taken. 

About twenty paces from the beacon, a circle had again been 
formed by the unhallowed crew, in the midst of which stood Mother 
Demdike, with the gory knife in her hand, muttering spells and 
incantations, and performing mystical ceremonials. 

Every now and then her companions joined in these rites, and 
chanted a song couched in a wild, unintelligible jargon. Beside 
the witch knelt Alizon, with her hands tied behind her back, so 
that she could not raise them in supplication ; her hair unbound, 
and cast loosely over her person, and a thick bandage fastened over 
her eyes and mouth. 

The initiatory ceremonies over, the old hag approached her 
victim, when Mistress Nutter forced herself through the circle, and 
cast herself at her feet. 

" Spare her ! " she cried, clinging to her knees ; " it shall be well 
for thee if thou dost so." 



ONE O'CLOCK! 353 

" Again interrupted !" cried the witch, furiously. ** This time 
I will show thee no mercy. Take thy fate, meddlesome woman I" 

And she raised the knife, but ere the weapon could descend, it 
was seized by Mistress Nutter, and wrested from her grasp. In 
another instant, Alizon's arms were liberated, and the bandage re 
moved from her eyes. 

" Now it is my turn to threaten. I have thee in my power, 
infernal hag!" cried Mistress Nutter, holding the knife to the 
witch's throat, and clasping her daughter with the other arm. 
" Wilt let us got" 

"No !" replied Mother Demdike, springing nimbly backwards. 
" You shall both die. I will soon disarm thee." 

And making one or two passes with her hands, Mistress Nutter 
dropped the weapon, and instantly became fixed and motionless, 
with her daughter, equally rigid, in her arms. They looked as if 
suddenly turned to marble. 

"Now to complete the ceremonial," cried Mother Demdike, 
picking up the knife. 

And then she began to mutter an impious address preparatory 
to the sacrifice, when a loud clangour was heard like the stroke 
of a hammer upon a bell. 

" What was that ?" exclaimed the witch, in alarm. 

u \y ere there a clock here, I should say it had struck one," 
replied Mould-heels. 

" It must be our master's timepiece," said another witch. 

(s One o'clock!" exclaimed Mother Demdike, who appeared 
stupefied with fear, " and the sacrifice not made then I am lost I " 

A derisive laugh reached her ears. It proceeded from Mother 
Chattox, who had contrived to raise herself to her feet, and, 
tottering forward, now passed through the appalled circle. 

" Ay, thy term is out thy soul is forfeited like mine ha ! 
ha I" And she fell to the ground. 

"Perhaps it may not be too late," cried Mother Demdike, 
grasping the knife, and rushing towards Alizon. 

But at this moment a bright flame shot up from the beacon. 

Astonishment and terror seized the hag, and she uttered a loud 
cry, which was echoed by the rest of the crew. 

The flame mounted higher and higher, and burnt each moment 
more brightly, illumining the whole summit of the hill. By its 
light could be seen a band of men, some of whom were on horse 
back, speeding towards the place of meeting. 

Scared by the sight, the witches fled, but were turned by 
another band advancing from the opposite quarter. They then 
made towards the spot where their broomsticks were deposited, 
but ere they could reach it, a third party gained the summit of 
the hill at this precise point, and immediately started in pursuit 
of them. 

Meanwhile, a young man issuing from behind the beacon, flew 

2A 



354 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

towards Mistress Nutter and her daughter. The moment the 
flame burst forth, the spell cast over them by Mother Demdike 
was broken, and motion and speech restored. 

" Alizon!" exclaimed the young man, as he came up, " your 
trials are over. You are safe." 

" Oh, Richard ! " she replied, falling into his arms, " have we 
been preserved by you ? " 

" I am a mere instrument in the hands of Heaven," he replied. 

Mother Demdike made no attempt at flight with the'rest of 
the witches, but remained for a few moments absorbed in contem 
plation of the flaming beacon. Her hand still grasped the 
murderous weapon she had raised against Alizon, but it had 
dropped to her side when the fire burst forth. At length she 
turned fiercely to Richard, and demanded 

" Was it thou who kindled the beacon ? " 

'' It was !" replied the young man. 

" And who bade thee do it who brought thee hither?" pur 
sued the witch. 

"An enemy of thine, old woman !" replied Richard. " His 
vengeance has been slow in coming, but it has arrived at last." 

u But who is he ? I see him not ! " rejoined Mother Demdike. 

" You. will see him before yon flame expires," said Richard. 
" I should have come to your assistance sooner, Alizon," he con 
tinued, turning to her, u but I was forbidden. And I knew I 
should best ensure your safety by compliance with the injunctions 
I had received." 

" Some guardian spirit must have interposed to preserve us," 
replied Alizon ; " for such only could have successfully combated 
with the evil beings from whom we have been delivered." 

rt Thy spirit is unable to preserve thee now!" cried Mother 
Demdike, aiming a deadly blow at her with the knife. But, for 
tunately, the attempt was foreseen by Richard, who caught her 
arm, and wrested the weapon from her. 

" Curses on thee, Richard Assheton !" cried the infuriated hag, 
rt and on thee too, Alizon Device, I cannot work ye the imme 
diate ill I wish. I cannot make ye loathsome in one another's 
eyes. I cannot maim your limbs, or blight your beauty. I 
cannot deliver you over to devilish possession. But I can 
bequeath you a legacy of hate. What I say will come to pass. 
Thou, Alizon, wilt never wed Richard Assheton never ! Vainly 
shall ye struggle with your destiny vainly indulge hopes of 
happiness. Misery and despair, and an early grave, are in store 
for both of you. He shall be to you your worst enemy, and you 
shall be to him destruction. Think of the witch's prediction 
and tremble, and may her deadliest curse rest upon your heads." 

" Oh, Richard ! " exclaimed Alizon, who would have sunk to 
the ground if he had not sustained her. " Why did you not pre 
vent this terrible malediction ? " 



HOW THE BEACON FIRE WAS EXTINGUISHED. 355 

" He could not," replied Mother Demdike, with a laugh of 
exultation ; u it shall work, and thy doom shall be accomplished. 
fYnd now to make an end of old Chattox, and then they may 
take me where they please." 

And she was approaching her old enemy with the intention of 
putting her threat into execution, when James Device, who ap 
peared to start from the ground, rushed swiftly towards her. 

" What art thou doing here, Jem T cried the hag, regarding 
him with angry surprise. " Dost thou not see we are surrounded 
by enemies. I cannot escape them but thou art young and 
active. Away with thee ! " 

" Not without yo, granny," replied Jem. " Ey ha' run os fast 
os ey could to help yo. Stick fast howld on me," he added, 
snatching her up in his arms, u an ey'n bring yo clear off yet." 

And he set off at a rapid pace with his burthen, Richard being 
too much occupied with Alizon to oppose him. 



CHAPTER XVII. HOW THE BEACON FIRE WAS 
EXTINGUISHED. 

SOON after this, Nicholas Assheton, attended by two or three 
men, came up, and asked whither the old witch had flown. 

Mistress Nutter pointed out the course taken by the fugitive, 
who had run towards the northern extremity of the hill, down 
the sides of which he had already plunged. 

" She has been carried off by her grandson, Jem Device," said 
Mistress Nutter ; " be quick, or you will lose her." 

u Ay, be quick be quick 1 " added Mother Chattox. " Yonder 
they went, to the back of the beacon." 

Casting a look at the wretched speaker, and finding she was 
too grievously wounded to be able to move, Nicholas bestowed 
no further thought upon her, but set off with his companions in 
the direction pointed out. He speedily arrived at the edge of the 
hill, and, looking down it, sought in vain for any appearance of 
the fugitives. The sides were here steep and shelving, and some 
hundred yards lower down were broken into ridges, behind one 
of which it was possible the old witch and her grandson might 
be concealed; so, withour a moment's hesitation, the squire 
descended, and began to search about in the hollows, scrambling 
over the loose stones, or sliding down for some paces with the 
uncertain boggy soil, when he fancied he heard a plaintive cry. 
He looked around, but could see no one. The whole side of the 
mountain was lighted up by the fire from the beacon, which, 
instead of diminishing, burnt with increased ardour, so that every 
-object was as easily to be discerned as in the day-time ; but, not- 



356 THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES. 

withstanding this, he could not detect whence the sound pro 
ceeded. It was repeated, but more faintly than before, and 
Nicholas almost persuaded himself it was the voice of Potts call 
ing for help. Motioning to his followers, who were engaged in 
the search like himself, to keep still, the squire listened intently, 
and again caught the sound, being this time convinced it arose 
from the ground. Was it possible the unfortunate attorney had 
been buried alive ? Or had he been thrust into some hole, and 
a stone placed over it, which he found it impossible to re'move ? 
The latter idea seemed the more probable, and Nicholas was 
guided by a feeble repetition of the noise towards a large frag 
ment of rock, which, on examination, had evidently been rolled 
from a point immediately over the mouth of a hollow. The 
squire instantly set himself to work to dislodge the ponderous 
stone, and, aided by two of his men, who lent their broad 
shoulders to the task, quickly accomplished his object, disclosing 
what appeared to be the mouth of a cavernous recess. FVom out 
of this, as soon as the stone was removed, popped the head of 
Master Potts, and Nicholas, bidding him be of good cheer, laid 
hold of him to draw him forth, as he seemed to have some diffi 
culty in extricating himself, when the attorney cried out 

(l Do not pull so hard, squire ! That accursed Jem Device has 
got hold of my legs. Not so hard, sir, I entreat." 

" Bid him let go," said Nicholas, unable to refrain from laugh 
ing, " or we will unearth him from his badger's hole." 

" He pays no heed to what I say to him," cried Potts. " Oh, 
dear ! oh, dear 1 he is dragging me down again !" 

And, as he spoke, the attorney, notwithstanding all Nicholas's 
efforts to restrain him, was pulled down into the hole. The squire 
was at a loss what to do, and was considering whether he should 
resort to the tedious process of digging him out, when a scram 
bling noise was heard, and the captive's head once more appeared 
above ground. 

" Are you coming out now ? " asked Nicholas. 

" Alas, no !" replied the attorney, " unless you will make terms 
with the rascal. He declares he will strangle me, if you do not 
promise to set him and his grandmother free." 

" Is Mother Demdike with him ? " asked Nicholas. 

rt To be sure/' replied Potts ; u and we are as badly off for 
room as three foxes in a hole." 

" And there is no other outlet said the squire ?" 

" I conclude not," replied the attorney. " I groped about like 
a mole when I was first thrust into the cavern by Jem Device, 
but I could find no means of exit. The entrance was blocked up 
by the great stone which you had some difficulty in moving, but 
which J em could shift at will ; for he pushed it aside in a moment, 
and brought it back to its place, when lie returned just now with 
the old hag ; but probably that was effected by witchcraft," 



HOW THE BEACON FIRE WAS EXTINGUISHED. 357 

" Most likely," said Nicholas, " But for your being in it, we 
would stop up this hole, and bury the two wretches alive." 

" Get me out first, good Master Nicholas, I implore of you, 
and then do what you please," cried Potts. " Jem is tugging at 
my legs as if he would pull them off." 

"" We will try who is strongest," said Nicholas, again seizing 
hold of